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Rep. Debbie Dingell Announces Recommitment to Drunk Driving Legislation at January 7 News Conference

Two-year anniversary of Michigan family’s tragic death draws renewed push for legislation to advance the use of vehicle technology to prevent drunk driving

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, immediate past MADD National President Helen Witty, Ken Snyder, Rana Abbas Taylor and Tom Taylor, Jacob Main and new MADD National President Alex Otte at a virtual press conference on January 7.

WASHINGTON – Marking two years since Rima and Issam Abbas and their three children were killed by a drunk driver, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) was joined at a January 7 virtual news conference by Rana Abbas Taylor, friends of the Abbas children, and leaders of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), to renew calls for legislative action in the new Congress to stop drunk driving. Early this year, Dingell will reintroduce legislation to advance the use of vehicle technology to prevent drunk driving.

In the last Congress, Dingell’s HALT (Honoring Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate Drunk Driving) Act — which honors the family of five that died when a drunk driver struck their SUV head-on while they were returning home to Michigan from a vacation — called for a process that would lead to drunk driving prevention technology as standard equipment in new vehicles in a few years. The House of Representatives passed this measure in 2020, but a similar bill, the RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone) Act, was introduced in the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support and was pending when the 116th Congress ended last month. Both bills therefore must be reintroduced in the new 117th Congress that convened this week.

“Congresswoman Dingell’s courageous and swift action to create legislation in my family’s honor that would end drunk driving is a testament to her leadership and commitment to those she serves,” said Rana Abbas Taylor, sister of the late Rima Abbas. “It is my hope that the auto industry and all legislators can join Congresswoman Dingell, MADD and my husband and I in doing what is right and putting an end to drunk driving once and for all. We need to do better. Enough is enough is enough.”

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a study in July 2020 which found that more than 9,400 drunk driving deaths could be prevented each year when drunk driving prevention technology is made standard on every new car. Such systems include 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). Technologies like these will be beneficial, not only to prevent drunk driving but to detect other dangerous behaviors that lead to crashes such as drowsy driving, distracted driving, and even medical emergencies.

“The good news is, the technology that could eliminate drunk driving already exists,” explained MADD’s new National President, Alex Otte. “It’s time for the new Congress to take the necessary steps for its implementation, and we are grateful for Congresswoman Dingell’s leadership on this lifesaving effort.”

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 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, 202.600.2032, [email protected]

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