- The Kiefer Foundation helped make Michigan the 26th state with distracted driving laws.
- The Foundation has three pillars: awareness, policy, and technology.
During the 2023 Detroit Auto Show, Steve Kiefer, Founder and Chairman of The Kiefer Foundation and former President of General Motors International and General Motors Co., spoke about distracted driving and recent vehicle safety legislation.
This follows the passage of the hands-free law that went into effect June 30, 2023, which The Kiefer Foundation – supported by MICHauto – helped implement. The law makes it illegal to hold or manually use a cell phone or other mobile electronic device while operating a vehicle. This includes:
- Making or answering a telephone or video call
- Sending or reading a text message or email
- Watching, recording, or sending a video
- Accessing, reading, or posting to social media
- Browsing or using the internet
- Entering information into GPS or a navigation system.
The Kiefer Foundation was created to spearhead the implementation of this law nationwide following the death of Kiefer’s son, Mitchell Kiefer, due to a distracted driving accident. The organization was founded with three pillars: awareness, policy, and technology.
Kiefer spoke about the partners the Foundation has collaborated with to help stop distracted driving. This includes:
- Peers Foundation, which offers a simulation of distracted driving.
- B.R.A.K.E.S., which offers a safe driving class that has educated over 50,000 people nationwide.
- USA Hockey, which has dedicated September as Mitchell Kiefer Memorial Rink, in memory of Mitchell Kiefer, who played hockey.
- Michigan Department of Transportation, which the Foundation worked with the install five miles of cable guardrails where Mitchell Kiefer was hit.
In addition to its partnerships, a large part of The Kiefer Foundation is legislation, primarily Hands-Free USA. So far, the Foundation has helped implement this policy in 29 states, with Michigan being the 26th state. Since its passage, Kiefer shared distractions are down 12.7%, with 3,800 fewer crashes.
Kiefer ended his presentation discussing how technology is “the source of the distraction, but it can also be the solution.” Technology that is being explored to combat distracted driving include:
- A driver monitoring system that can watch drivers’ eyes to track fatigue and distracted driving.
- Safest Driver apps, which can secure drivers discounts with their insurances as well as provide telematics data that provides key information such as speeding zones, areas with frequent crashes, and more.
- A stationary camera company that can detect with high precision the lack of seatbelts and use of phones.
- Turning on Do Not Disturb mode when driving to prevent distractions.
“This is a behavioral issue, and behavioral issues are hard to address, but we think there are ways to address it,” Kiefer said.