More pedestrians killed during a new moon

Nov 14, 2007

The next time you decide to go for a moonlight stroll, you may want to check first if the moon is full.

A new study in the journal Leukos, "Moon Phases and Nighttime Road Crashes Involving Pedestrians," by researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) found that more pedestrians are killed in traffic on nights with a new moon—when the moon is not illuminated—than during a full moon.

"The overall nighttime road fatality rate per distance traveled in the United States is about three times the daytime rate, due mostly to lower ambient illumination and higher frequencies of fatigued, intoxicated and younger drivers," said Michael Sivak, research professor and head of UMTRI's Human Factors Division. "In this study, we found that pedestrian crashes are sensitive to differences within low levels of ambient illumination, which can vary in nighttime conditions."

Sivak and UMTRI colleagues Brandon Schoettle and Omer Tsimhoni looked at 10 years of nighttime crashes and lunar phase data (1996-2005). They examined fatalities during a seven-hour period from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

They found that the mean number of pedestrian fatalities during this time was 22 percent higher on nights with a new moon compared to nights with a full moon.

The researchers report that during the study period, there were 612 pedestrian deaths during new moons, while 497 pedestrian fatalities occurred during full moons. Because the number of nights with full and new moons was not necessarily the same in each year, the data were summarized in terms of the fatalities for the seven-hour period per each night.

"The differences in the ambient illuminance for nights with a full moon versus a new moon are unlikely to be correlated with any other factors that are known to influence the likelihood of nighttime pedestrian crashes—alcohol intoxication of drivers or pedestrians, driver fatigue and driver age," Sivak said. "Consequently, the results imply that the amount of moonlight has substantial influence on pedestrian crashes."

Source: University of Michigan

Explore further: Best of Last Week—Confirmed Earth-sized planet, testing twin paradox w/o a spaceship and news we all peak at 24

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dawn gets Vesta target practice (w/ Video)

Mar 11, 2011

There is an old chestnut about a pedestrian who once asked a virtuoso violinist near Carnegie Hall how to get to the famed concert venue. The virtuoso's answer: practice!

Mexico swine flu death toll rises to 42

May 06, 2009

(AP) -- Mexican health officials say that testing of backlogged cases has increased the confirmed swine flu death toll from 31 to 42. That includes three new deaths in the past two days.

Recommended for you

Can science eliminate extreme poverty?

Apr 16, 2014

Science has often come to the rescue when it comes to the world's big problems, be it the Green Revolution that helped avoid mass starvation or the small pox vaccine that eradicated the disease. There is ...

Japan stem cell body splashes cash on luxury furniture

Apr 14, 2014

A publicly-funded research institute in Japan, already embattled after accusing one of its own stem cell scientists of faking data, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on designer Italian furniture, reportedly to use up ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Teachers' scare tactics may lead to lower exam scores

As the school year winds down and final exams loom, teachers may want to avoid reminding students of the bad consequences of failing a test because doing so could lead to lower scores, according to new research published ...

Hyperbolic homogeneous polynomials, oh my!

Cutting-edge mathematics today, at least to the uninitiated, often sounds as if it bears no relation to the arithmetic we all learned in grade school. What do topology and combinatorics and n-dimensional ...

Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 ...