Drunk Driving Technology Mandated in Legislation Would Save 9,400 Lives Annually

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) applauds the U.S. House of Representatives on today’s passage of historic drunk driving prevention technology provisions as part of the INVEST in America Act.

The INVEST in America Act includes the Honoring the Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate Drunk Driving (HALT) Act introduced by Congresswoman Debbie Dingell 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. Representatives Kathleen Rice and David McKinley were original co-sponsors of the HALT Act of 2021, and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky championed the bill through their committee.

“We are overwhelmed by the unwavering support of Congresswoman Dingell, who introduced legislation within a week of the crash that killed my only sister Rima, her husband Issam, and her three amazing children Ali, Isabella and Giselle,” said Rana Abbas Taylor. “Technology exists that can not only decrease, but prevent, these crashes entirely. We are so grateful for the support from Chairman Pallone, Subcommittee Chair Schakowsky, Representatives Rice and McKinley and all the members of Congress who recognize that we cannot wait any longer to end drunk driving.”

The HALT Act provisions passed today in the INVEST in America Act call 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 is one of the most important in MADD’s history in terms of lives that could be saved,” said MADD National President Alex Otte. “We know the technology exists to prevent drunk and impaired driving now. And we know that requiring the technology as standard safety equipment on all new cars will save 9,400 lives a year. MADD is so proud of the fierce advocates in the House of Representatives – Chairman Pallone, Subcommittee Chair Schakowsky, Representatives Dingell, McKinley and Rice – and we look forward to working with them and our champions in the Senate to help this become law.”

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 bill awaits a vote by the full Senate.

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.

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 aged 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.”