The National Safety Council announced its preliminary estimate that approximately 35,200 motor vehicle fatalities occurred in 2013. This is a 3-percent decrease from 2012. Crash injuries requiring medical attention also are estimated to have fallen by 2 percent since 2012 to a total of 3.8 million.

Although 2013 traffic fatalities are 3-percent lower than 2012, they are 1-percent higher than 2011. The relatively high number of fatalities in 2012 appears to have been a one year bump, partially due to a mild winter. The 2013 numbers have dropped back down to 2010 and 2011 levels.

“More than 90 percent of crashes are due to human error,” said John Ulczycki, vice president of Strategic Initiatives at the National Safety Council. “Drivers are taking a lot of risks on our roads today – people are speeding, driving impaired from alcohol and drugs, not wearing seat belts, talking on phones, reading or sending e-mails and texts, and parents are letting teens drive before they are ready. We all need to look at the risks we take and the resulting harm that may be caused to ourselves and others. Many of these 35,200 fatalities last year surely involved people taking risks they thought they could handle. Sadly, they were wrong.”

In addition to devastating human loss, car crashes present a significant national cost in lost wages and productivity, medical expenses, administrative expenses, employer costs and property damage. The estimated cost of motor vehicle deaths, injuries and property damage in 2013 was $267.5 billion, a three percent decrease from 2012.