It's not a massive decline, but it's a part of a trend. With some 5.69 million reported crashes – a slight rise, overall – traffic deaths in the U.S. have dropped 3.1 percent from 2012, with 32,719 people killed in crashes last year. And over the last decade, it's fallen by 25 percent, thanks in no small part to safer cars.
The U.S. Department of Transportation releases the previous year's statistics at the end of each year, and nearly every number is down, save one: "Pedacyclist" fatalities, which increased by 1.2 percent.
Here are the important stats:
- Passenger vehicle fatalities (which also includes trucks and SUVs) are down by 3 percent to 21,132, the lowest since 1975.
- Pedestrian fatalities dropped to 4,735, down 1.7 percent for the year, but still higher than the lowest year on record, 2009, when 4,109 pedestrians were killed.
- Drunk driving crashes have decreased by 2.5 percent to 10,076, but still account for 31 percent of all fatal crashes in 2013.
- Injuries in crashes fell across the board: 2.2 percent for passenger vehicles, 5.4 percent for motorcyclists, 13 percent for pedestrians, and 4 percent for large trucks.
- And yes, even the number of people killed in what's described by the DOT as "distraction-affected crashes" dropped by 6.7 percent – the largest drop in the study – to 3,154. However, DOT is quick to point out that the estimated injuries sustained by those "distraction-affected crashes" has increased by 1 percent.
We're going to start poring over the official Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data, but check out the overview and see if anything's of interest.