A Full Moon Means More Fatal Motorcycle Crashes

A motorcycle silhouetted against a full moon There are lies, damned lies, and statistics. That’s the quote famously attributed to Benjamin Disraeli.

However you interpret that phrase, a recent study published in the British Medical Journal claims to have statistical proof that more motorcyclists (and, presumably, scooter riders) die during a full moon than at other times.

Canadian researchers used the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, an official registry of fatal crashes in the US, to analyse all deaths caused my motorcycle crashes between 1975 and 2014. They then cross-referenced those data to dates when a full moon was present.

More Deaths Occurred During a Full Moon

There were 13,029 motorcyclists in fatal crashes over the 1,482 total nights they assessed. Of the 1,482 nights they referenced, 4,494 fatal crashes occurred on the 494 nights with a full moon, and 8,535 occurred on the 988 control nights without a full moon. That is an average of 9.1 deaths occurring during a full moon, versus 8.6 at other times.

These results were then checked against data from the UK, Canada and Australia. The results were the same.

Of course, it would be easy to question these findings—given that other factors, such as rider age, weather conditions and the cause of the crash were not taken into account. It does tend to add credence to the phenomenon—well reported by emergency services workers—that it’s always a crazy night when its a full moon!

Reference: Redelmeier, Donald A., and Eldar Shafir. “The full moon and motorcycle related mortality: population based double control study.” BMJ 359 (2017): j5367.

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