Eric Fagan

Eric Fagan

Fort Bend County drivers are getting into more serious car crashes this year amid an uptick of construction across the county, compared to 2020, according to the sheriff’s office.

More than 15 drivers in Fort Bend County have died since the start of the year, compared to 11 in the same period in 2020, according to a Wednesday news release. That’s an increase of about 45 percent.

There’s also been an increase in the number of major crashes, which increased from 548 to 619, and total crashes, which increased from 2,193 to 2,535, according to the news release.

The trend led to the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office beseeching the public to drive more carefully.

“Everyone’s driving safety is of great concern to us,” Sheriff Eric Fagan said.

The increase in fatal crashes appears to be a statewide trend. Texas fatality crashes increased about 11 percent during the first quarter of 2021, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Officials with the sheriff’s office blamed construction, speed and alcohol consumption for the increase.

“Driving more defensively, reducing speed, designating a driver to take you home if you have been drinking alcohol and delaying the urge to text is perhaps the best advice I can give,” Fagan said.

Some national studies have found that more Americans are drinking during the coronavirus pandemic than they were before. For instance, nearly one in five citizens reported they were drinking heavily in the last 30 days, according to a USA Today article about a new poll.

Sheriff’s office experts don’t keep local data on alcohol consumption, according to Jacqueline Preston, spokesperson for the sheriff’s office. But arrests for driving while intoxicated have declined since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data provided to the Fort Bend Star.

Deputies made more than 420 DWI arrests in 2019, a number that declined to 303 in 2020 and 264 so far in 2021, according to the data.

Patrols have had some success reducing crashes by enforcing traffic laws, but many crashes are happening on smaller roads where reducing speed would prevent most crashes, according to the news release. The office will uptick traffic enforcement in coming weeks to combat the rise in crashes, according to the news release.

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