House to Vote on Provisions in HALT Act to Require Lifesaving Technology in All New Cars

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) joined Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky and Representatives Debbie Dingell, Kathleen Rice and Paul Tonko today in urging the House to pass the auto safety provisions in the INVEST in America Act.

The INVEST in America Act includes provisions of the Honoring the Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate Drunk Driving (HALT) Act which would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue a rulemaking to make drunk driving prevention technology standard equipment in all new passenger vehicles. Congresswoman Dingell introduced the HALT Act in memory of a Northville, Michigan family, Issam and Rima Abbas and their children Ali, Isabella, and Giselle, who were killed by a wrong-way drunk driver while driving home from a Florida vacation in January 2019.

At a press conference on June 30, Rana Abbas Taylor shares the pain of losing her sister Rima, brother-in-law Issam, nephew Ali and nieces Isabella and Giselle in a crash caused by a wrong-way drunk driver. With her are her husband Tom, Rep. Debbie Dingell, who sponsored the HALT Act in memory of Rana’s family, Rep. Paul Tonko, Theodore Schwab, Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Representative Kathleen Rice, who co-sponsored the HALT Act.

“Within a week of the crash that killed my only sister Rima, her husband Issam, and her three amazing children Ali, Isabella and Giselle, Congresswoman Dingell introduced legislation to prevent this horrific tragedy from happening to anyone else. She has been unwavering in her leadership on this issue ever since. We are so grateful for her support,” said Rana Abbas Taylor. “Technology exists that can not only decrease, but prevent, these crashes entirely. The fact that this lifesaving technology predates my family’s crash but was not utilized and is STILL being debated is NOT okay.”

The HALT Act calls for a technology-neutral rulemaking that could involve a variety of drunk driving prevention systems, including driver monitoring, which can detect signs of distracted, impaired or fatigued driving, and alcohol detection, which uses sensors to determine that a driver is under the influence of alcohol and then prevent the vehicle from moving.

“This legislation marks the beginning of the end of drunk driving in America – saving more than 9,400 lives and preventing hundreds of thousands of injuries a year,” said MADD National President Alex Otte. “As one of the nearly 1 million victims MADD has served in our 41-year history, I want to thank Energy and Commerce Chairman Pallone and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chair Schakowsky for their leadership in auto safety, and Representatives Debbie Dingell, the impetus behind the HALT Drunk Driving Act, and longtime MADD champion Kathleen Rice. Every one of you has shown your commitment to standing up for victims of drunk driving by fighting to end this public safety crisis.”

MADD National President Alex Otte, Tom and Rana Abbas Taylor, Representative Kathleen Rice, co-sponsor of the HALT Act, and Ken Snyder at a press conference on Capitol Hill to support the HALT Act.

Drunk driving is the leading killer on America’s roads, and the number of drunk driving deaths increased 9% in 2020 despite fewer vehicles on the road, according to preliminary estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The rulemaking called for in this bill is the most significant auto safety issue to be undertaken by NHTSA in terms of potential lives saved. More than 9,400 drunk driving deaths could be prevented each year when drunk driving prevention technology is made standard on every new car, according to a study released last year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The HALT Act is similar to a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate by Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) on April 22. The Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone (RIDE) Act provisions became part of the Surface Transportation Investment Act that passed the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on June 16 with the critical additional support of Senators Gary Peters and Shelley Moore Capito.

“The provisions now included in both the House and Senate transportation bills give the auto industry a reasonable period of time to include drunk driving prevention technologies as standard equipment in all new cars,” said Otte. “MADD is so grateful to all of our champions in Congress who refuse to be complacent while 10,000 deaths and 300,000 injuries a year are caused by drunk driving. The bipartisan groundswell of support gives me – and so many other victims – hope that we will see a day when there are no more victims.”

Americans support Congressional action to require drunk driving prevention technology as standard equipment in all new vehicles, according to a new nationwide poll conducted by Ipsos for MADD. The survey found that 9 of 10 Americans support technology that is integrated into a car’s electronics to prevent drunk driving (89% say it is a good or very good idea[1]), while 3 of 4 (77%) back Congressional action to require this technology in all new vehicles. More broadly, 8 of 10 (83%) believe that new auto safety features should be standard in vehicles as they become available, not part of optional equipment packages.

For more information about the RIDE Act and the HALT Act and vehicle technology to stop drunk driving, please visit madd.org/HALT/RIDEAct.

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 400,000 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.

About The Survey

The poll was conducted March 5 to March 7, 2021, by Ipsos using their KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,016 general population adults age 18 or older, with a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Contact: Becky Iannotta, 202-600-2032, becky.iannotta@madd.org

[1]  Respondents were given the following description: “Multiple automotive technologies exist that could prevent drunk driving and require no actions by the driver.  Adoption of these technologies in vehicles may prevent 9,000 drunk driving deaths every year.”