Despite a statewide pursuit of zero annual traffic deaths, a new report shows that Nevada saw a near 25 percent increase in the number of people killed on state roads for 2012 compared to the same period last year.

Nevada adopted a “zero fatalities” campaign after a record 432 traffic deaths in 2006. This past October they adopted a new law making it illegal to text or talk on a hand-held cellphone while driving. Despite these efforts, traffic deaths have still risen.

Just five years after their record number of traffic deaths, Nevada managed to drop the fatalities to just 246. This precipitous drop was preceded by a campaign to increase awareness of safe driving and a focus on defensive driving skills. The effort by legislators to ban the use of handheld devices and texting and driving in particular was the culmination of years worth of effort and public education.

Nevada state legislators and Nevada police departments have focused primarily on driving safety specifically to reduce the number of traffic related fatalities, yet still, the first quarter of 2012 showed that those efforts have at least a few flaws.

However, the flaws in Nevada’s plans to decrease traffic fatalities have more do with natural factors than with anything the state did or did not do. For instance, a milder than normal winter and an early spring meant more drivers were on the roads during the first quarter of 2012 than usual. This increased number of drivers means the chances of having an accident were increased, through no fault of police or state officials. Also, economic factors have forced more employees to drive further for their work (assuming they found work.) This longer commute puts more drivers on the road for longer periods of time, increasing their exposure to the inherent dangers of driving.

The year is only just beginning and it is too early to know if the upward trend in Nevada traffic fatalities will continue or subside, but knowing where they stand now you can expect that police in the state will likely redouble their efforts to remind drivers that safe driving saves lives.