Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Travis County Alcohol-related accidents increase this year

Sheriff's office says increase largest in eastern part of county.

Alcohol-related traffic crashes are up 53 percent in Travis County from this time last year, according to the sheriff's office.

The increase is sharpest in the eastern part of the county, which is growing quickly as subdivisions and industry move onto relatively inexpensive land. There, alcohol-related wrecks are up 111 percent, according to the sheriff's office, increasing from 44 incidents a year ago to 93 this year.

Sheriff's office spokesman Roger Wade said no detailed studies of the increase have been done, but he said the likely reason for it is a growing population and more drivers.

"In the old days, you'd be driving down the road at 2 a.m., and it'd be empty, so there wouldn't be much chance of hitting someone," Wade said.

The statistics come as the sheriff's office is asking for more patrol officers.

In his annual budget request, Sheriff Greg Hamilton has asked county commissioners for 10 more officers. That would cost about $800,000 the first year, including vehicles and equipment, and about $650,000 a year after that, Wade said.

The office has about 130 patrol officers who cover about 750 square miles, Wade said.

Hamilton told the commissioners that additional officers would help not only with the documented increase in alcohol-related crashes but also with an increase in aggressive driving that he and his officers have observed.

Click here for the Full Story in the Austin American Statesman