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Mackinac Policy Conference 2021: GM International President Trying to Move Needle on Distracted Driving Legislation

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Image credit: Lisa Brancato/WDET

General Motors International President Steve Kiefer discusses his work promoting hands-free legislation in memory of his son.

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The Kiefer Foundation, founded by General Motors International President Steve Kiefer, is devoted to ending distracted driving through education and robust hands-free legislation. Kiefer talks about his hopes of expanding distracted driving laws in Michigan, despite the surprising opposition from many House members.

Mitchel was an amazing young man. He wanted to change the world. And we’re helping him change the world in his memory.” —Steve Kiefer, General Motors International, on his son who was killed in a car accident in  2016 

Listen: GM International President Steve Kiefer on legislation to prevent distracted driving.


Steve Kiefer is president of General Motors International and chairman of the Kiefer Foundation. He says the Kiefer Foundation was created a month after his son Mitchel was killed in a car accident caused by a distracted driver in 2016. “Mitchel was an amazing young man. He wanted to change the world. And we’re helping him change the world in his memory.” Kiefer says the foundation is promoting hands-free legislation that would ban the use of handheld devices while driving. “We know from the data that the most significant item that is impacting distracted driving and distracted driving crashes is the use of the cellphone.”

Earlier this year, Kiefer testified three bills in front of the Michigan House Transportation Committee, which he says have been stagnant ever since with more than 20 House members opposed to hands-free legislation.“Until it happens to you or a loved one, you don’t know how bad it is. And I think most of these lawmakers [in opposition to bills to crack down on distracted driving] haven’t lost a loved one to distracted driving … But I’m telling you, they will at some point, because it’s so prevalent.”

Despite opposition from some House members, Kiefer says 88% of Michigan residents support expanding no texting laws and similar hands-free legislation to prevent distracted driving. “To me, it’s appalling and I can’t believe it … Some [lawmakers] actually say they’re too busy. Can you imagine saying you’re too busy to do something to save your child’s life?”

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Nora Rhein, Detroit Today Intern

Nora Rhein works with the production team on “Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson” on 101.9 WDET. She’s very proud to be a public radio nerd.

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