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Families Impacted by Distracted Driving Testify in Favor of Three New Bills in Lansing

April 12, 2023

Yesterday, MichAuto attended the House Transportation Committee meeting to support the passage of House Bills 4250, 4251, and 4252 to strengthen Michigan’s laws regarding distracted driving. Bill sponsor State Rep. Matt Koleszar, Steve Kiefer of The Kiefer Foundation, and other families tragically impacted by distracted driving testified to support the legislation.

WXYZ Detroit
April 11, 2023
Simon Shaykhet

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — The effort to save lives by stopping distracted driving is playing out in Lansing.

House lawmakers are hearing from families who have lost loved ones due to cellphone use behind the wheel. Families testified in favor of three new bills Tuesday at a powerful hearing to crack down on distracted driving.

The Michigan House Transportation, Mobility and Infrastructure Committee spent time listening carefully to personal accounts.

“He took his bike from our home in Brighton to Island Lake Recreational Area. He was coming into an entrance and a distracted driver turned very early. They hit my husband and then he died,” said Jane Horal, who lost her husband Daniel after 23 years of marriage.

Supporters of new legislation looking to ban all cellphone use except hands-free technology and for emergencies say there is no time to waste.

Steve Kiefer lost his son Mitchel, an 18-year-old college student from Michigan State University, who was struck from behind on I-96 in 2016.

“When I look over and see someone on their phone, it might as well be a gun. It’s that visceral. Some people say it’s OK at a traffic light. No, it’s not,” Kiefer said. “Behavioral changes are hard. With stiff laws and a lot of enforcement, we can change.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10 people die each day in the U.S. from distracted driving.

If the bill passes the committee, it would go to a vote in the House. Michigan could then become the 26th state to go hands-free.

“My son was the distracted driver, on the cell phone. The amount of time it took him to look down on his phone to send a text, he crossed the center and hit an SUV head-on. He died in a firefighter’s arms on the road,” said James Freyblar, who also lost a son.

State Rep. Matt Koleszar, who introduced the legislation, added, “What’s at stake is saving lives. We are going to make our roads safer. Data from other states has proven that.”

The Kiefer family also has given out signs to remind drivers not to be distracted. A vote in the committee is expected in two weeks.