Kelsey’s Law would punish teens for using cell phones while driving
REED CITY — In the wake of her daughter’s death, Bonnie Raffaele is determined to make an impact at the state level.
Raffaele, of Sault Ste. Marie, will address the Michigan House Transportation Committee today in hopes of passing Kelsey’s Law, which would increase restrictions on teen drivers.
“It’s been a year and a half that I’ve been fighting for (this law),” Raffaele said. “It would mean the world to me.”
Raffaele’s daughter Kelsey was killed in January 2010 at the age of 17, while talking on her cell phone and driving. The bill would make it illegal for Level 1 and Level 2 drivers — those with a learner’s permit or those who have been driving for less than one year — to use their cell phones in any way while behind the wheel. Law enforcement officers could pull over any young drivers who they see using a cell phone.
“I know that it will save lives,” Raffaele said. “There are kids out there who will not use their phones because it is the law.”
Since Kelsey’s death, Raffaele has visited schools around the state sharing her daughter’s story along with statistics of teen automobile accidents and an inspirational video. She encourages students to take the Kids Driving Responsibly challenge by signing a banner and pledging not to use their phone irresponsibly while driving.
On Monday, she shared her presentation with students at Reed City High School and Middle School.
“I’m so happy that this has been brought to Reed City,” said Reed City Police Chief Chuck Davis. “When kids see the video, it hits home. It’s something that you don’t realize otherwise.”
The issue of distracted driving has increased over the years with the availability of new technology, Davis said.
“This problem is huge and it’s becoming larger. Five years ago, we didn’t have half the number of phones that we do today,” he said. “It’s time that we start taking action.”
The bill must pass through the committee and then be passed on the House floor by next week, which is the end of the lame duck session.
When the law is passed, Raffaele said she will not stop presenting her story to teens around the state.
“There are three things needed in order to succeed in reducing accidents among young adults: education, law and enforcement,” Raffaele said. “I will be part of the education piece.”