Rulemaking in Transportation Bill would require new cars to passively detect drunk driving

Washington, D.C. — MADD commends the House Energy and Commerce Committee for its leadership in advancing legislation which has the potential to eliminate nearly all drunk driving deaths on our nation’s roads. More than 10,000 people are killed every year as a result of alcohol-impaired driving.

“On behalf of hundreds of thousands of drunk driving victims nationwide, we thank Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (NJ), Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (IL) and Representative Debbie Dingell (MI) for advancing groundbreaking legislation which calls for installation of advanced drunk driving prevention systems in all passenger vehicles,” said MADD National President Helen Witty.

Witty’s 16-year-old daughter, Helen Marie, was killed by a drunk and drugged driver in 2000.

The INVEST in America Act requires the beginning of a technology-neutral rulemaking process by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration within 18 months of enactment. A final rule would be issued within five years and implementation in vehicles would occur two years later.

“Chair Schakowsky’s commitment to motor vehicle safety is evident in this legislation,” Witty stated. “She understands the role that government needs to play in pursuing a strong safety agenda.”

Witty also recognized the drunk driving prevention leadership of Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, a member of Chair Schakowsky’s Subcommittee.

The process leading to the technology provision in this measure began in January 2019, when Dingell proposed a measure to honor the five members of the Abbas family of Northville, Michigan. Days earlier, the Abbas family — parents Issam and Rima and their children Ali, Isabella and Giselle — were killed by a wrong-way drunk driver with a BAC almost four times the legal limit.

“We would not be here today without Congresswoman Dingell’s sustained commitment to saving lives and preventing the kind of crash that tragically destroyed the Abbas family,” Witty said.

Witty said the regulatory timetable in the measure is realistic, setting a schedule that would certainly appear to fit comfortably into the auto industry’s product development and lead time cycles.

“MADD reiterates our challenge to the auto industry to more aggressively develop and implement technology that either measures a driver’s BAC level and prevents operation of the vehicle, monitors the driver’s performance and takes action to control operation, or is some combination on those systems, and the bill provides this technology-neutral flexibility,” Witty said.

“We know that companies and suppliers have or are working on these technologies, and we hope they will embrace this legislation in a responsible and rational way to more seriously address drunk driving, the leading cause of highway deaths,” she added. “The time to move from the lab to the dealer showroom is here.”

“Safety is not an option,” Witty added.

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 more than 390,000 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: media@madd.org