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Michigan father's mission to end distracted driving gains steam in Lansing

The new law would expand on possible offenses and increase penalties.
Posted at 11:50 AM, Jan 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-29 11:50:36-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Michigan father says it's time to make a serious change to distracted driving. New state legislation would crack down even harder than the current law.

It passed the House rather easily, which leaves it in the Senate's hands.

Steve Kiefer is fighting for his son, who lost his life to a distracted driver. He says current laws are virtually worthless and haven't kept up with the times.

"If you're touching the phone — if you're holding the phone — primary offense, and you're fined," Kiefer told FOX 17.

The Northville father is making it his mission so no other parent has to feel what his family felt after losing their boy.

"We lost my son Mitchel to a crash involving a distracted driver," Kiefer said.

Mitchel was rear-ended, which sent his car into oncoming traffic. Kiefer, the president of GM International, started a foundation in honor of his son's life.

Kiefer hopes this new bill can protect his three other kids and everyone else out on the roads.

"I mean, people are just addicted to these phones, and it never fails. You're on the road, and you look at somebody swerving or going too slow or going too fast, and you get alongside the car, and the phone is in front of their face, and they're completely distracted," Kiefer said.

RELATED: Michigan students participating in safe driving campaign

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2019, distracted driving led to more than three thousand deaths. AAA shows distracted driving kills an average of nine people and injures over one thousand every day in America.

This new legislation is going to expand on the current no-texting law. If the governor signs this into law, you can face penalties for using social media and watching videos, whether it's on your phone or other electronic devices.

"I often say the only one I don't worry about anymore is Mitchel. He's in a good, safe place. The other three I worry about every day, and they worry about us; they worry about me," Kiefer said.

Your first offense is going to cost you $100. The second one costs $250 and one point on your license.

You can get two more points for each new offense any time after that.

Despite most support from the House, a small number of representatives are not on board with this plan.

"To me, this feels like the big hand of government. They know what's best. They know what's best for us. Am I alone? Does others feel this is chipping away of liberty in this country?" Oakland Township Republican Rep. John Reilly said.

If the driver is involved in a crash while using a device, the fines are doubled. Governor Whitmer has shown support for this legislation in the past.

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