Activists aim to create legislation to stop texting and driving in Michigan

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – “Stop texting, stop texting.”

Bonnie Raffael’s a dedicated activist who lost her own daughter in 2010, in a car crash.

“Kelsey was driving home from her friend’s house, she actually was the one talking on the phone, she was the one that was distracted and she went out past a solo car and misjudged the distance of an oncoming car and was t-boned by an SUV, and she died instantly,” Raffael said.

Her death, and her mother’s fight, inspired “Kelsey’s law” across Michigan. It bans teens with a level 1 or 2 graduated driver’s license from using their mobile phones while driving.

Across Michigan, statistics show the number of distracted driving-related crashes are going up.

“If somebody’s next to you and they’re driving distracted you wouldn’t be exempt from them running into you.”

Sergeant jake newton says this year, the Ingham County Sheriff’s office has responded to 224 crashes involving distracted driving.

“Of those crashes, there’s been two fatalities, and as far as injuries go: those range anywhere from minor to severe injuries and there’s been 45 of those reported,” he said.

That’s just one county.

That’s why today, nonprofits The Kiefer Foundation and stopdistractions.org met in Detroit today to create the hands-free Michigan coalition.

It brings together the community, law enforcement, and safety groups to educate people about the dangers of being distracted behind the wheel.

“It’s the first step to creating awareness and creating basically an enforcement tool for law enforcement and we believe that through “Hands-free Michigan” we can begin to change behavior and start eliminating this horrific epidemic that’s facing our state.,” said Steve Kiefer, founder of the Kiefer foundation

In 2016 Steve Kiefer lost his 18-year-old son Mitchel to distracted driving.

And now, through his “Kiefer Foundation,” he’s hoping to put an end to it with a big focus on policy change.

“88% of the population has been surveyed and supports the idea of these hands-free laws,” he said.

And for Raffael, having this coalition is a sense of relief because she knows it will help save lives.

“I’ve been at this 11 years trying to get things moving in Michigan to reduce the number of fatalities,” Raffael said.

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