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DoT, NHTSA: 2013 Traffic Fatalities Declined 3.1 Percent

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2013 Traffic FatalitiesThe US Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Association have released their annual overview of motor vehicle crashes and found that the number of traffic fatalities dropped 3.1 percent in 2013. While the number of lives lost on the road in 2013 (32,719) is significant, it reflects a return to relative normalcy after the number of fatalities increased between 2011 and 2012.

Of those 32,719 fatalities, NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) reports that 10,076 were related to alcohol-impaired driving. While this is also a nominal decline from 2012—a 2.5% decrease year-over-year—it still suggest that far too many drivers in the United States are not drinking responsibly.

Even scarier: 24% of all impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes had previous license suspensions or revocations, though prior offenses were not necessarily for alcohol-related offenses.

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Also disconcerting is the fact that 49% of all fatally injured passenger vehicle occupants were not wearing seatbelts. In instances of passenger vehicle crashes where no occupant was killed, between 81% and 87% percent of survivors were properly restrained. As ever, the numbers suggesting the importance of wearing one’s seatbelt speak volumes.

Somewhat surprisingly, the number of overall crashes was up, climbing from 5,615,000 in 2012 to 5,687,000 in 2013. The vast majority of these crashes (5,657,000) were non-fatal, and the number of injuries sustained in these crashes (1,591,000) declined considerably.

Also worth noting: pedestrian fatalities were down 1.7% in 2013, but that number was still quite a bit higher than 2009’s all-time low of 4,109 pedestrian fatalities.

Another positive note concerns younger drivers: the 33% decrease in young drivers involved in fatal collisions accounts for about 33% of the overall decline in traffic fatalities, suggesting that outreach and awareness programs are better preparing young drivers for real-world driving.

For the full report, check out the DoT and NHTSA’s 2013 overview.