Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Speeding Drunk Driver Kills Woman, Injures Her Passenger

Alcohol involvement and speeding often go hand-in-hand.

A woman from Ontario was fatally injured and killed while one of her passengers was seriously injured when a speeding drunk driver from Anaheim rear-ended her car on the I-10 freeway.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Thomas Vanauken, 43, was driving his 2009 Acura MDX SUV at a speed of more than 120 miles per hour. Vanauken crashed against the back of the woman’s 1995 Mitsubishi when she reduced her speed as the traffic slowed down.

Vanauken continued to drive after the collision but later on flipped and crashed his car himself when he hit the center divider wall in the car pool lane.

He was taken to Kaiser Hospital for his minor injuries but the 42-year-old driver of the Mitsubishi was pronounced dead at the same hospital. The 32-year old female passenger from Pomona suffered moderate injuries.

The CHP has indicated that Vanauken’s level of intoxication and unsafe speed caused the crash and will be facing charges including gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving while intoxicated and causing injury or death.

A blood alcohol content level as low as 0.03–0.059 percent (.08 percent is California’s legal limit) already can decrease a person’s inhibitions and impair a driver’s alertness, judgment, coordination and concentration.

A lot of drivers, particularly male drivers, once under the influence, would drive above the reasonable speed. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol consumption is prevalent among drivers involved in speeding-related crashes.

As much as 40 percent of the drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher involved in fatal crashes were speeding in 2004.

This season, think twice before you drink and slow down before you speed. Driving drunk and speeding will reduce your ability to steer and drive your car safely and increase the risk of a fatal car crash.