The Houston Chronicle reports that Alvester Bowens, 12, was hit and killed on a highway overpass by a pickup truck Saturday night while Bowens was separated from his father during an evening bike ride. The driver of the truck, Gilberto Aguirre, was charged with driving while intoxicated, and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is considering whether to add a charge of intoxication manslaughter.
Alvester Bowens’ tragic death is just one of many all-too-frequent reminders of the dangers of drunk driving. In the United States in 2010, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol was involved in 2,020 pedestrian fatalities (47.2 percent of all pedestrian fatalities), 11,087 vehicle occupant fatalities (39.9 percent), and 209 cyclist fatalities (33.8 percent). By comparison, that one-year death toll is almost 50% greater than the number of Americans killed on September 11 and in the entire wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, combined.
While some progress has been made in recent years, the number of people killed or injured by drunk drivers remains unacceptably high. While there is no one answer to this problem, the law does provide means to hold drunk drivers-as well as those who irresponsibly serve alcohol to intoxicated or underage persons-responsible for the harm they cause.