Dingell renews push to change drunk driving law 2 years after Abbas family tragedy

Abbas family. (WDIV)

DETROIT – It’s been two years since a drunk driver took the lives of a Metro Detroit family.

In January 2019, the Abbas family, from Northville with deep ties to Dearborn, was traveling on I-75 in Lexington, Kentucky, returning to Michigan from a trip to Florida when they were hit by a wrong-way drunk driver.

All five in the vehicle, Issam Abbas, 42, Rima Abbas, 38, Ali Abbas, 14, Isabella Abbas, 13, and Giselle Abbas, 7, died.

Michigan U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI 12) introduced legislation in honor of the Abbas family back in 2019, pushing to require the commercialization and standards for passive alcohol detection systems in all new cars.

On Thursday, the two year anniversary of the crash, Dingell renewed her call for the reform.

“The beautiful, young Abbas family was stolen from us by a drunk driver who never should have been behind the wheel of a car. Two years after they were killed, we were joined today by their friends and family to call on Congress to act and prevent a similar tragedy from ever taking place again. We have the technology to save lives, it’s time we use it.”

In 2019, more than 10,100 people died in drunk driving crashes in the United States. 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.

Also see: Fund established in honor of Dearborn family killed in drunk driving crash

Legislation Introduced Calling for Drunk Driving Safety & Technology Standards

  • The fastest way to achieve the goal of making drunk driving prevention systems standard in every vehicle is through federal regulation.
  • The U.S. government must establish a safety rulemaking process that drives the development of effective technologies and mandates their installation in all new vehicles.
  • Congresswoman Debbie Dingell’s HALT (Honoring Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate Drunk Driving) Act in the last Congress called for a process leading to drunk driving prevention technology as standard equipment in new vehicles in a few years.
  • The House of Representatives passed this measure in 2020.
  • A similar Senate measure, the RIDE (Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone) Act was pending with bipartisan support before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee when the 116th Congress ended.
  • Congresswoman Dingell and Senate sponsors will reintroduce legislation in the 117th Congress in 2021.

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.