WASHINGTON, D.C. — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) today joined Senator Tom Udall, Senator Rick Scott and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell to announce the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act of 2019 (RIDE Act). The federal legislation calls for the Department of Transportation to issue a rulemaking to equip all new cars with advanced alcohol detection technology that would passively detect whether the driver is drunk. This has the potential to eliminate drunk driving in America.

According the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, if all vehicles were equipped with advanced alcohol detection technology, an estimated 7,000 lives could be saved every year.

“This technology is a game changer in the fight to stop the horrible tragedies caused by drunk driving — the leading killer on America’s roads,” said MADD National President Helen Witty. “Seven months ago at a House hearing I challenged the auto industry to move aggressively to put advanced drunk driving prevention technology in their vehicles. Now I’m back to reissue the challenge with some of my friends in Congress.”

MADD is honored to work with Senator Udall and Senator Scott and applauds them for leading this effort in the U.S. Senate.

“The fact is that deaths from drunk driving are completely preventable – so we have an obligation to do everything we can to prevent such senseless tragedies. I’ve been in this fight for a long time, and we’ve made real progress. But we are still losing thousands of lives each year to drunk driving crashes. Every drunk driving death is one too many – and one family too many forced to confront unimaginable pain. With this legislation, we have the opportunity to help end drunk driving for good by putting alcohol detection technology in all new motor vehicles,” said Udall. “We owe it to those we’ve lost—to honor them with action.”

Said Senator Rick Scott: “It is heartbreaking that we have lost so many to the irresponsible actions of drunk drivers. Now is the time to act so we never have to experience another tragedy. I’m proud to join Senator Udall to introduce the RIDE Act, which promotes the development of critical alcohol detection technology that could save 7,000 lives every year. One life lost is too many, and this technology will go a long way in protecting our families and communities.”

Advanced alcohol detection has been a key component of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving since the campaign’s launch in 2006. That year, MADD convened a technology symposium in New Mexico to discuss the idea of car companies building advanced alcohol detection systems that would passively detect whether the driver is drunk.

Following that symposium, the government and the industry entered into a cooperative agreement to determine if such a technology was feasible. Eleven years later, we know that it is in fact possible to build a car that cannot be driven by a drunk driver.

Last month, Congresswoman Dingell introduced the Honoring Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate (HALT) Drunk Driving Act, which is similar to the RIDE Act announced today. Dingell’s legislation was inspired by the horrific crash in January that killed five members of the Abbas family from Michigan — Issam Abbas, his wife Dr. Rima Abbas, and their three children, A.J., Isabella, and Giselle. The family was killed in Kentucky by a wrong-way drunk driver while traveling home from a family vacation in Florida.

“Drunk driving has brought pain to my community in Dearborn and the country,” said Dingell. “Change needs to come faster and we need to do everything we can to ensure what happened to the Abbas family never happens again. The bills introduced in the House and Senate represent a way to do that and I’m committed to continuing to work with advocacy groups, industry, federal regulators, and those who have lost loved ones, including relatives of the Abbas family who are with us here today, so we can stop drunk driving and ensure the tragedy of the Abbas family never happens again.”

Witty, who represents the nearly 1 million victims of drunk driving MADD has served, said MADD is grateful to Dingell for her commitment to ending drunk driving and agreed that no other family should suffer the heartbreak caused by this 100% preventable crime.

“In an instant, an entire family was taken from us because of someone’s decision to drive drunk,” Witty said. “This happens to 30 people every day, almost 11,000 people every year. It must stop. We’ve spent years on research. Now it’s time to make this a reality and start saving lives.”

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save nearly 380,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

 Contact: Becky Iannotta, 202.600.2032, becky.iannotta@madd.org