Traffic Deaths Down 3 Percent in 2013

Traffic fatalities, injuries and their related costs all fell in 2013, according to estimates by the National Safety Council — but the news isn't quite as significant as it might seem. Last year's 35,200 traffic deaths marked a 3 percent decrease compared with 2012, while crash-related injuries were down 2 percent to 3.8 million and associated costs dipped to $267.5 billion, also down 3 percent. Still, last year's death toll is 1 percent higher than in 2011, and the recent dip is attributable to a spike in 2012 resulting from that year's mild winter, the council reported.

NHTSA Predicts Traffic Deaths Down in 2013

John Ulczycki, vice president of strategic initiatives for the Illinois-based safety-advocacy group, said many accidents are preventable and are caused by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, talking or texting on smartphones, and parents letting teens drive before they are ready. "More than 90 percent of crashes are due to human error," Ulczycki said in a statement. "We all need to look at the risks we take and the resulting harm that may be caused to ourselves and others."

The NSC makes its estimates based on data supplied to it each month by traffic authorities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, counting the total vehicle-related deaths that occur within a year of a crash on both public and private roadways. This differs from how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration makes its calculations, which count fatalities occurring within 30 days of a crash on public roadways only.

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News Editor Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers.  Email Matt