WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, members of Congress reintroduced legislation to reduce drunk driving deaths across the country.
The legislation, Honoring Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate (HALT) Drunk Driving Act, will require the commercialization and standards for advanced drunk driving prevention technology systems in all new cars.
In January of 2019, 42-year-old Issam Abbas and 38-year-old Rima Abbas along with their three children were killed during a crash on I-75 in Lexington, Kentucky by a drunk driver.
The couple and their children, 13-year-old Ali Abbas, 12-year-old Isabella Abbas and 7-year-old Giselle Abbas were headed home from a vacation in Florida.
“This technology already exists and it could have saved my family,” said Rana Abbas Taylor, sister of the late Rima Abbas. “We have an opportunity here to eliminate drunk driving. It’s time for the federal government and auto industry to act now to prevent other families from the unimaginable pain of losing loved ones to drunk driving. I am so grateful to Congresswoman Dingell for her incredible leadership and swift action in creating legislation in my family’s honor.”
Drunk driving is the number one cause of death on America’s roadways. NHTSA estimates that one person in the United States dies from drunk-driving crashes every 52 minutes, resulting in more than 10,000 deaths—about 30 percent of all fatal crashes— caused by drunk driving each year.
The legislation was reintroduced Tuesday by Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), and David McKinley (R-WV).
Two years ago, Dingell honored their lives on the house floor and pledged action to reduce drunk driving crashes. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and Rick Scott (R-FL) plan to introduce a companion version of the legislation in the near future.
“We have the technology to prevent drunk driving and save lives, and it’s long past time that we use it,” said Congresswoman Dingell. “Issam, Rima, Ali, Isabella, and Giselle Abbas should all still be with us today, but a driver with a BAC nearly four times the legal limit was allowed to get behind the wheel of a car and senselessly take their lives. The HALT Drunk Driving Act will make our roads safer, and will help us bring an end to the trauma of drunk driving deaths and injuries in this country.”
MADD National President Alex Otte has spoken out in support if the bill.
“The time is now to pass this bill and put an end to the trauma suffered by drunk driving victims and their families as a result of someone else’s bad choice,” said Otte. “MADD is so grateful for Congresswoman Dingell’s leadership to set in motion one of the most important pieces of legislation in MADD’s 40-year history. The HALT Act will make great strides in our fight to eliminate drunk driving, which accounts for more than a quarter of all traffic deaths and injures more than 300,000 people every year.”
The HALT Drunk Driving Act:
- Requires NHTSA to initiate proposed rulemaking to prescribe motor vehicle safety standards requiring vehicles manufactured after implementation to include advanced, passive drunk driving prevention technology
- This technology would passively detect passenger BAC exceeding .08 or involve similar systems that detect impairment and limit or prevent vehicle operation
- It also includes an option for the Secretary to determine that new motor vehicle safety standards set forth under these provisions cannot be met and submit a report to Congress, and sets that the Secretary shall work with various stakeholders to accelerate the development of this technology and ensure the successful integration into passenger motor vehicles.