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Our Kelsey’s Law Scholarship: Getting MI high school students to help stop distracted driving

May 23, 2016 by Steven M. Gursten

$5,000 will be awarded to four students who submit the best persuasive video, Tweet or graphic about stopping the teen car crashes caused by distracted driving, texting

Kelsey Raffaele: Kelsey's Law Scholarship to stop distracted driving honors her life and memory

Texting while driving is the No. 1 killer of teenagers.

Our Michigan Auto Law attorneys are enlisting the help of Michigan’s high school students to help stop it by sponsoring a new public safety campaign, “The 2016 Kelsey’s Law Scholarship: Stop Distracted Driving Contest.” The scholarship is  in honor of Kelsey Raffaele, whose tragic death inspired Michigan’s teen driving law after she was killed in a 2010 cell phone-related car crash.

To apply for the scholarship and for further details, please visit:


The Kelsey’s Law Scholarship

In October 2016, at least $5,000 worth of scholarships will be awarded to four Michigan high school students.

Applicants are asked to submit a persuasive safety message that shows how they would convince young drivers to reduce distractions while driving.

The safety message can be via video, Tweet or image form.

The contest is open to high school seniors and juniors attending any public or private Michigan high school.

The deadline to submit entries is August 31, 2016.

Winners will be announced during the week of October 16, 2016 to coincide with National Teen Driver Safety Week. Awards will be applied toward tuition at any university, college or technical school in the U.S. for higher education.

Why our Michigan Auto Law attorneys want to put a stop to teen distracted driving

The idea behind this safety scholarship is to create something marvelous and creative, while also promoting awareness of just how dangerous distracted driving is for these teen drivers. This age group has the highest risk of dying in car accidents.

Texting while driving is the No. 1 cause of both teenage car accidents and deaths on the road in the U.S., according to the Cohen Children’s Medical Center.

Our auto accident attorneys want to get involved after seeing so many of our own clients and their families, who’ve been devastated in car accidents caused by distracted driving. Specifically, texting is becoming the cause of more and more crashes, and it appears over and over in the lawsuits that we file and the cases we see. And then I found out about Kelsey’s Law.  I was moved by the story of Kelsey Raffaele’s tragic death, and how that led her mother Bonnie Raffaele to push our legislators in Lansing to pass Michigan’s first teen cell phone ban in 2013.

Bonnie Raffaele, of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, is partnering with our own Michigan Auto Law attorneys in support of this safety scholarship contest. Bonnie wants to pass along this message:

“Kelsey would be the first to tell kids, “Put the phone away! Don’t make the same mistake I made that ended my life.” The Kelsey’s Law Scholarship a great opportunity to push the distracted driving safety issue to the kids and the parents. It has the potential to really save lives.”

Our goal is also to help continue the process Bonnie has started of educating teen drivers tabout the extreme dangers of distracted driving. We want to help protect and save these precious young lives.

The true dangers of teens texting while driving

Here are some sobering statistics on the dangers of teen distracted driving:

  • Car accidents are the leading killer of teen drivers in the U.S. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • While car accidents are the leading killer of teen drivers, texting while driving is the No. 1  cause of both teenage car accidents and deaths on the road in the U.S. (Cohen Children’s Medical Center)
  • More than 300,000 teens are injured and more than 3,000 die each year as a result of sending text messages while behind the wheel. (Cohen Children’s Medical Center)
  • Within the last year, there has been a 19% jump in teen car accidents in Michigan. (Governors Highway Safety Administration)

Michigan’s teen cell phone ban for Kelsey

In 2013, Kelsey’s Law passed in Michigan, making it illegal for teen drivers to use cell phones.

The law prohibits cell phone use by teen drivers with a Level 2 graduated license. This is when 16-year-olds can drive a motor vehicle without an adult in the state of Michigan. A teen driver who violates this law by using a cell phone would receive a civil infraction.

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