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Why are fatal motorcycle crashes more likely during lunar events?

A new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study suggests that when it comes to motorcycle crashes, the largest number of bikers die when there's a full moon in the night sky. Researchers at the University of Toronto, who collaborated with the NHTSA on this study, analyzed crash statistics and lunar data across 40 years before determining that there was a correlation between the two phenomena.

In combing through the crash data during this time frame, the researchers were able to determine that fatal motorcycle crashes appeared to be at least 5 percent higher on full moon nights compared to any others. Researchers additionally found that, during a "supermoon," an instance in which the moon approximates the Earth even more than a full moon does, motorcycle fatalities rise by a staggering 32 percent.

Full moons happen approximately once a month year round. During the four decades between 1975 and 2014 that were analyzed, just under 4,500 fatal motorcycle crashes occurred on nights with either full or super moons. In contrast, during this time frame, there have only been 65 supermoons. During those nights, 703 fatal motorcycle crashes have occurred.

Researchers attempted to make sense of why the moon would cause such an increase in the most serious motorcycle crashes. They concluded that it was evidently visually distracting for motorcyclists.

In looking over cases, they found instances that suggested that bikers may have been unable to properly assess their speed or distance because of light distortions caused by the full moon. In other cases, motorcyclists may have been blinded by the moon's brightness in the midst of turning at an intersection.

As if riding a motorcycle didn't carry with it other inherent risks, researchers argue these new findings should encourage bikers to take even more precautions when out on the road during a lunar event.

If you've lost a loved one in a motorcycle crash due to someone else's negligence, then a San Bernardino attorney can advise you of your right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in your case.

Source: American Council of Science and Health, "Motorcycle deaths increase during full moons," Eric Lief, Dec. 28, 2017

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