East Lansing’s Kellogg Center hosted a Michigan Traffic Safety Summit this morning and Steve Kiefer, Chairman of the Kiefer Foundation was the featured speaker.

On Sept. 19, 2016, Steve Kiefer lost his son Mitchel when he was killed in a car crash caused by a distracted driver. He was just eighteen years old.

“When you lose a child I mean it’s obviously life-changing. it’s the most horrific thing that can happen to you,” Kiefer said. “I’ve often said when something so tragic happens you have to sort of decide are you gonna let it destroy your life or are you gonna try to repurpose your life to try to do something about it.”

Since then, the Kiefer Foundation has been working to honor Mitchel’s legacy, by fighting to end distracted driving.

On Mar. 27, the Kiefer family will celebrate Mitchel’s 21st birthday, by launching the foundations “Hands-free Michigan” campaign. 

With support from the governor, the Kiefer foundation is seeking help from legislators to approve a bill that will create a hands-free driving law, and Michigan is just a start.

“There’s sixteen states now that have hands-free legislation. Our goal is to have all fifty states with hands-free legislation,” Kiefer said. 

“A lot of people don’t recognize how dangerous it is to use a cellphone, a handheld cellphone while driving,” Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning Director Michael Prince said.

Kiefer hopes his son’s story will help change that. He said when people hear Mitchel’s story and realize that it’s so random, they really relate to the fact that it could very well be their own child, spouse, or loved one.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has already implemented guardrails along a two-mile stretch of road near where Mitchel was killed. Since their installation, they’ve been hit six times. Now Kiefer hopes new legislation, technology, and awareness will help save more lives.