Days after I stepped into the role of MADD National President a year ago, an unimaginable tragedy struck a family of five traveling back to Michigan from a vacation in my home state of Florida.
On Jan. 6, 2019, Issam and Rima Abbas, along with their three children, A.J., Isabella and Giselle, were struck head-on by a wrong-way drunk driver on Interstate 75 in Kentucky. There were no survivors. Yet the Abbas family legacy – one of kindness and humanity – endures.
Months after the crash, their family joined lawmakers on Capitol Hill in Washington to fight for federal legislation that could eliminate drunk driving in America by making it impossible for a drunk driver to operate a vehicle. As a mother who lost her 16-year-old daughter to drunk driving, I cannot imagine the courage it took for them to be there that day in the midst of such vast and deep grief.
Yet because of Issam, Rima, A.J., Isabella, Giselle and those who loved them most, we can visualize a day when every new car is equipped with technology that will passively detect whether the driver is drunk. And stop them. Stop these senseless, preventable tragedies that claim parents and children and spouses and siblings and friends and shatter thousands of families and communities every year.
That is why I am asking you to email your lawmakers today in support of the Honoring the Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate (HALT) Drunk Driving Act by Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan and the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act of 2019 (RIDE Act) by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico and Senator Rick Scott of Florida.
The HALT Act and RIDE Act call for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a rulemaking by 2024, which would outline the process and deadlines for equipping new vehicles with this lifesaving technology.
Ask your Representative in Congress to become a co-sponsor of the HALT Act by contacting them here. Ask your Senators to become a co-sponsor of the RIDE Act by contacting them here. It will only take a couple of minutes—about the amount of time it will take for someone else to be injured in a drunk driving crash in America.
Together, we can end this.
To read more about the Abbas family and how advanced technology holds the key to eliminating drunk driving in America, please view our 2019 Report to the Nation, which we dedicate to Issam, Rima, A.J., Isabella and Giselle, to the entire Abbas family and to all victims and survivors of the 100 percent preventable crime of drunk driving.