Clark County fuels Nevada's 2012 increase in traffic fatalities

CARSON CITY - Nevada ended 2012 with 258 highway fatalities, a 5 percent increase from the 246 fatalities in 2011, according to the state Office of Traffic Safety.

That death total is the highest since 2009 when 324 people died in roadway accidents.

Clark County's 45 percent rise to 170 fatalities, from 117 in 2011, tipped the statewide total to cause an overall increase. Neither the Las Vegas police or the Office of Traffic Safety last week could define an overall cause of the increase in traffic fatalities.

"All we can say is people must give full attention to their driving," police officer Jose Hernandez said.

The huge increase in Clark County fatalities was particularly alarming, said John Johansen, the impaired-driving coordinator for the Office of Traffic Safety. He hopes it will be an anomaly but added Tuesday that at least five people have died in accidents this year, including three pedestrians.

In 2012, the number of people killed in Clark County in motor vehicles accidents was 99, up from 62 in 2011. Added to this were 42 pedestrian deaths, compared with 30 in 2011. Motorcycle fatalities remained at 24, while two bicyclists were killed and three people died because of other causes.

Johansen said he has seen years when the Clark County fatalities dropped while rural Nevada deaths increased dramatically. But in 2012, the number of deaths in Nye County was eight, compared with 15 the previous year. Elko County deaths dropped to 11 from 18 the year before.

Other fatalities might be added to the yearly total if people critically injured in accidents last year die by Jan. 31.