Inside the fight to change drunk driving laws in honor of the Abbas family

Family of 5 with ties to Dearborn killed in crash

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

NORTHVILLE, Mich. – It’s been more than two years since a drunk driver took the lives of a Metro Detroit family.

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

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

Rima Abbas’ sister, Rana Abbas Taylor, is working with Congress to get new legislation passed. Michigan U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI 12) introduced legislation in 2019.

The legislation is meant to require the commercialization and standards for passive alcohol detection systems in all new cars.

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

“My memories of them are in this neighborhood. You know, of the walks we took, hanging out at the park with the kids. This is where I feel them more than anywhere else,” Rana Abbas Taylor said. “Rima and I were very close so, she was my sister, only sibling. We’re 11 months apart, Irish twins. Very, very close. She was my best friend. Issam, my brother-in-law found us the house here in their neighborhood because they wanted to make sure we were living really close to one another.”

In 2019, Rana Abbas Taylor and her husband Tom were asked to fly to Washington D.C. for the launch of a new bill that would require drunk driving detection to be mandatory in new vehicles. That bill never passed.

Now, Rana Abbas Taylor is helping the push behind a pair of new bills known as the Ride Act in the Senate and the Halt Act in the House. The charge is being led by Dingell.

“There have been too many deaths, too many solicitous people can’t bring back that leave you. Maybe we can help another family from not suffering the pain too many have,” Dingell said.

The bills would mandate ways to detect drunk drivers in new cars. Things that some automakers are doing already are monitoring lane drifting or speed changes. Other systems can detect alcohol in a driver’s breath or use infrared lighting on the steering wheel to gauge alcohol levels through a driver’s skin.

The bills are backed and written with bipartisan support.

Rana Abbas Taylor will testify before Congress on Tuesday, hoping to get more support for the legislation.

About the Authors:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.