Be­ware the full moon risk to bik­ers

Motorcycle Monthly - - News -

A report in the Bri­tish Med­i­cal Jour­nal pulls to­gether 40 years of data on mo­tor­cy­cle deaths across the US, and has found that the risk of hav­ing a fa­tal crash is higher un­der a full moon.

Writ­ing in the Bri­tish Med­i­cal Jour­nal, Don­ald Redelmeier – to­gether with El­dar Shafir from Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity – said: “Our study sug­gests that ex­tra care is needed when riding a mo­tor­cy­cle un­der a full moon. The av­er­age ride for a mo­tor­cy­clist is more dan­ger­ous than (for) a drunk driver with no seat­belt who trav­els the same dis­tance. Risk is one of those things that peo­ple just can’t sense un­til it is too late – that’s why we need sci­ence about this.”

In to­tal, there were 494 full moons be­tween the start of 1975 and the end of 2014, with 4494 fa­tal crashes be­tween the late af­ter­noon and the next morn­ing on those days. The re­sults re­veal that on av­er­age 9.1 crashes took place on nights with a full moon, com­pared to just over 8.6 when the moon was not full, which trans­lates into a 5% greater risk of crash­ing. The re­sult held re­gard­less of fac­tors in­clud­ing the time of year and decade as well as the mo­tor­cy­clist’s age, en­gine size, and whether or not they used a hel­met. “Five per cent is a great big deal when it comes to road safety,” said Redelmeier. Plus, when in­ves­ti­gat­ing the ef­fects of su­per­moons the im­pact ap­peared even greater, with a 22% higher risk com­pared with a reg­u­lar full moon.

To an­a­lyse whether crashes were more com­mon on moon­lit nights, the team looked at the num­ber of night-time crashes one week be­fore and one week af­ter each full moon – al­low­ing com­par­isons be­tween the weather, year, day of the week and even changes to road lay­outs and traf­fic lev­els.

Com­ment­ing on the study, David Spiegel­hal­ter, Win­ton pro­fes­sor for the pub­lic un­der­stand­ing of risk at the Uni­ver­sity of Cam­bridge, said: “The typ­i­cal fa­tal­ity is a mid­dle-aged man hav­ing a head-on col­li­sion on a big bike in the coun­try while not wear­ing a hel­met. Five per cent more bik­ers get killed on full­moon nights, and the au­thors sug­gest this may be be­cause of dis­trac­tion.”

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