Statement: Two-Year Anniversary of a Horrific Drunk Driving Tragedy Marked by Re-Commitment by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI, 12th) to Take Action

  • January 7, 2021
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 7, 2021
CONTACT: Pete Daniels / Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety / 301-442-2249 (C)

Two-Year Anniversary of a Horrific Drunk Driving Tragedy Marked by Re-Commitment by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI, 12th) to Take Action

Legislation that requires game-changing technology can lead to a long-awaited and much-needed decrease in impaired driving crashes, injuries and fatalities


On the two-year anniversary of the deadly impaired driving crash that killed Rima and Issam Abbas and their three children, family members and friends joined Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI, 12th) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to recommit to advancing proven drunk driving prevention technology in all new cars.

Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates): “Today marks a heart-rending anniversary for the Abbas family and their community.  The memory of their loved ones and their unbelievable strength, resilience and grit must be honored by ending the tragic, yet preventable, problem of impaired driving.  Impairment detection systems could save upwards of 9,000 lives every year if they were more widely deployed, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).  It is unacceptable that a person dies every hour in a drunk driving crash, especially with proven solutions on hand.  We laud Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI, 12th) for her ongoing leadership and determination to bring this solution over the finish line.”

Joan Claybrook, Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): “The advancement of technology that detects and prevents impaired driving has suffered from more than a decade of slow-walking by the auto industry.  Meanwhile, alcohol-impaired driving continues to kill more than 10,000 people on average annually.  The total comprehensive costs of drunk driving in this country amount to more than $200 billion annually.  It is deplorable that industry profits have been prioritized over the safety, health and well-being of motorists throughout our country for years.  It must stop now with legislative action.  I commend Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) for her leadership and urge the incoming Biden-Harris Administration and the 117th Congress to swiftly move legislation requiring this technological solution.”

Alan Maness, Vice President of Federal Affairs of State Farm Insurance Companies, and Insurer Co-Chair of Advocates: “Alcohol-impaired driving is a persistent traffic safety issue that has contributed to nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities annually over the past decade.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adult drivers drank too much and got behind the wheel approximately 111 million times in 2016, which equates to more than 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving each day.  Developing passive technology to prevent drivers from operating a vehicle while impaired could radically alter this deadly scenario.  On this sad day, we extend our deep sympathies to the Abbas family and community.  We thank Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) for her leadership and urge the 117th Congress to take swift action to eradicate impaired driving.”

Stephen W. Hargarten, MD, MPH, Professor of Emergency Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin and Co-Chair of Advocates: “First responders, emergency nurses and doctors bear witness every day to the devastating toll of impaired driving.  In the medical field, when effective treatments are identified to save a patient, those treatments are vigorously pursued.  We must do the same with advanced impaired driving prevention technology by requiring it in all new vehicles with minimum performance standards.  This is a research-based and sound course of action to treat this public health threat.”


Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is an alliance of consumer, medical, public health, law enforcement and safety groups and insurance companies and agents working together to make America’s roads safer.  Advocates’ mission is the adoption of federal and state laws, policies and programs that prevent motor vehicle crashes, save lives, reduce injuries, and contain costs.