August 14, 2014 8:55 AM, EDT

Traffic Deaths Drop 4% in First 6 Months, National Safety Council Estimates


About 16,180 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first six months of 2014, a 4% decline from the same period last year, the National Safety Council said.

The figure is 9% lower than 2012’s fatality count for the first six months, NSC said. Reasons for the decline are unknown.

“Studies show that 90% of crashes involve driver error, including speeding, alcohol use and distractions,” NSC President Deborah Hersman said in a statement.

“Although it’s encouraging to see a decrease in fatalities, the unfortunate fact remains that many of these crashes could have been prevented,” she added.

In addition to the drop in fatalities, NSC estimated a 3% decline in the cost of motor vehicle deaths, injury and property damage from January to June to $123 billion.

Motor vehicle deaths declined the most in Vermont, dropping 32% from the same period last year and jumped 40% in South Dakota and 39% in Wyoming.

NSC estimates crash statistics using data gathered monthly from state law enforcement agencies. It does not separate truck-involved crashes.