A report by the California Highway Patrol says that exactly 2,995 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2012. Each of these people had their own individual lives. They likely had families, friends, hopes and dreams. Some of them were the victims of a reckless or negligent driver. Others may have been at least partially responsible for the accident.

Though may seem impersonal to look at these 2,995 fatalities as a set of statistics instead of lives lost, reports like the CHP’s 2012 annual report of car accidents involving injury and death may shed some insight on how these sorts of wrecks occur.

Nearly 3,000 car accident fatalities is far too high of a number. It was California’s highest annual total in two years. Still, going back to 2003, the number of deaths has generally gone down year-on-year. There were at least 4,094 fatalities annually from 2003-2006. The state has not reached 4,000 since, and has ranged from 2,739 in 2010 to 3,967 in 2007.

The vast majority of victims in 2012 were male. Of the 2,995 fatalities, 2,161 were male, the CHP reports. Most victims of either gender were drivers. A total of 564 were passengers in one of the vehicles, while 702 were pedestrians and 147 were riding a bicycle when they were killed.

The report says that 1,066 fatal crashes involved drunk driving. There were 1,169 deaths in those crashes, more than one-third of the total. The fatalities were fairly evenly divided through the year, but July, August and September had the highest figures.

Driving drunk is one of the most reckless things that a person can do. Driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol puts everyone on the road at risk.