Michigan Lawmaker Recognized for Leading Legislation that Will Ultimately Lead to Drunk Driving Prevention Tech on All New Vehicles

NORTHVILLE, MI  – Near a park bench dedicated to a Northville family of five who were killed by a drunk driver in 2019, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) honored Congresswoman Debbie Dingell today for her fierce advocacy in Congress in memory of Issam, Rima, Ali, Isabella and Giselle Abbas.

Dingell is leading the push in Congress to pass the bipartisan Honoring the Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate Drunk Driving (HALT) Act, which will ultimately require lifesaving drunk driving prevention technology as standard equipment in all new cars.

The family of Rima and Issam Abbas and their children Ali, Isabella and Giselle gathered in a Northville, Michigan park to present Congresswoman Dingell with a MADD ‘Legislative Hero’ award for sponsoring the HALT Act. They also thanked Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Senator Gary Peters for their support of the HALT Act.

“Congresswoman Dingell’s leadership gives me and so many victims and survivors hope that we will see an end to drunk driving in our lifetime,” said MADD National President Alex Otte. “On behalf of the nearly 1 million victims and survivors MADD has served, I am so grateful for Congresswoman Dingell’s commitment to advancing technology that can stop the trauma and devastation caused by drunk driving every day.”

Dingell announced her support for drunk driving prevention technology in all new cars immediately after the January 6, 2019, crash that killed the Abbas family in Kentucky as they drove home from Florida.

“Congresswoman Dingell has tirelessly advocated for this lifesaving safety standard, and we are so grateful for her support of our family and all victims and survivors of drunk driving,” said Rana Abbas Taylor. “The crash that killed my only sister Rima, her husband Issam, and their three amazing children Ali, Isabella and Giselle was 100 percent preventable. This bill can ensure that no other families are forced to suffer the unimaginable pain that we have.”

Dingell was presented MADD’s “Legislative Hero” award “for her commitment to saving more than 9,400 lives a year by advancing automotive safety technology.” According to a study released last year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, making drunk driving prevention technology as standard on all new vehicles would save more than 9,400 drunk driving deaths each year.

“The Abbas family was stolen from us by a drunk driver who never should have been behind the wheel of a car,” said Rep. Dingell. “We have the technology to save countless lives, and it’s time we use it. More families should not have to go through the trauma of losing their loved ones to something so preventable. I’m grateful for MADD’s leadership and partnership in this fight, and I will continue to advocate for advancing technology to stop these preventable tragedies.”

The HALT Act is co-sponsored by Reps. David McKinley (R-WV) and Kathleen Rice (D-NY), and the U.S. House of Representatives passed it as part of the INVEST in America Act on July 1. The U.S. Senate passed a similar provision in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on August 10. The measure was led by Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rick Scott (R-FL), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

Both bills direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to initiate a rulemaking process and set the final standard within three years for impaired driving safety equipment on all new vehicles. NHTSA will evaluate technologies that may include:

  • Driving performance monitoring systems that monitor the vehicle movement with systems like lane departure warning and attention assist;
  • Driver monitoring systems that monitor the driver’s head and eyes, typically using a camera or other sensors;
  • Alcohol detection systems that use sensors to determine whether a driver is drunk and then prevent the vehicle from moving.

Drunk driving is still the leading killer on America’s roads. In 2019, more than 10,000 people were killed, and 300,000 others injured in drunk driving crashes. Alcohol-related drunk driving deaths spiked by 9% in 2020 compared to 2019, even as vehicle miles traveled plummeted by more than 430 billion miles.

“The legislation sponsored by Congresswoman Dingell will stop the tragedies that are tearing apart communities like Northville and so many others across the country,” Otte said. “We are hopeful that it will be given final Congressional approval later this month when the House is expected to consider the Senate-passed infrastructure bill. It’s time to direct the incredible expertise of the automotive technology industry toward eliminating drunk driving forever.”

For more information about the legislation 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.

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