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Fatal motorcycle crashes are five per cent more likely under a full moon, U of T study finds

Supermoons and full moons are distracting to motorcycle drivers (photo by Xinhua/Yin Bogu via Getty Images)

The risk of motorcycle drivers having a fatal crash is five per cent higher on nights with a full moon and 32 per cent greater when there’s a supermoon, new research led by a University of Toronto researcher has found.

Donald Redelmeier, a professor in the department of medicine at U of T and the lead author of the study published this week in the British Medical Journal, told the Washington Post that “our key recommendation is that extra care is needed when riding a motorcycle under a full moon.”

Some possible reasons for the increase: Full moons and supermoons could be a distraction for motorists, and the change in lighting could lead them to misjudge distance and speed.

Read about how U of T researchers found motorcycle crashes were five times more deadly than car collisions

Redelmeier told the Post that the broader lesson from the study is that if a full moon can have such an impact, imagine how distracting texting while driving is.

“The research serves as a safety reminder to the millions of people who ride a motorcycle, and the millions of others who do not, that small gaps in attention can lead to irreparable consequences," he said.

Interested in publicly funded research in Canada? Learn more at U of T’s #supportthereport advocacy campaign

Redelmeier and co-author Eldar Shafir of Princeton University analyzed four decades of data from the official United States registry of motor vehicle crashes for the study.

Read the research in the British Medical Journal 

Read the full article in the Washington Post