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Here are the winners of our 2016 Kelsey’s Law Scholarship Stop Distracted Driving Contest!

October 10, 2016 by Steven M. Gursten

Four Michigan high school students submitted the best persuasive video, Tweet and image to help stop teen car accidents caused by distracted driving

Pictured: Emily Eggenberger with Bonnie Raffaele and Principal Torok at Alma High School
Pictured: Emily Eggenberger with Bonnie Raffaele and Principal Torok at Alma High School

As National Teen Driver Safety Week begins Sunday, the winners are in for our first annual “Kelsey’s Law Scholarship Stop Distracted Driving Contest.” The scholarship is in honor of Kelsey Raffaele, who inspired Michigan’s teen driving law after she was killed in a 2010 car accident using her cell phone.

The winners, four Michigan high school students with the most convincing safety messages, will receive $5,000 worth of college scholarships. The submissions were in video, Tweet or graphic form.

Our attorneys worked with Kelsey’s mother, Bonnie Raffaele, of Sault Ste. Marie, to launch this scholarship contest and we’re thrilled with the results. We believe these students created the most influential and emotional messages that will truly resonate with teen drivers. And as Bonnie says, this contest has helped kids to not only really think about distracted driving and texting when driving, but also to bring awareness to their peers.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 19- year-olds in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Here are the four winning submissions:

Best Overall: Emily Eggenberger – Alma High School

Emily is currently a senior at Alma High School and created a powerful message about how distracted driving is “not always about you,” but deeply affects others.

Best Video: Amanda Abro – Walled Lake Western High School

Amanda Abro with attorney Steven Gursten at Michigan Auto Law

Amanda graduated from Walled Lake Western this past June and just started her freshman year of college at Wayne State University. Her dramatic video reminds us just how precious life is and illustrates the serious consequences of distracted driving wrecks.

Best Graphic: Jon Perrault – Escanaba Senior High School

Pictured with Jon is Escanaba High School Principal Darci Griebel


Jon is a senior at Escanaba Senior High School in the upper peninsula of Michigan. His graphic points out how quickly accidents can happen within just a few short seconds.

Best Tweet: Nathen Foster – Byron Center High School

Pictured with Nathen is Michigan Auto Law attorney Brandon Hewitt


Nathen is a senior at Byron Center High School just outside of Grand Rapids. It can be difficult to relay an impactful message in less than 140 characters, but Nathen was able to remind teens of the ultimate price one can pay after getting a driver’s license.

Our hope for the Kelsey’s Law Scholarship Stop Distracted Driving Contest

Our hope is to now get these powerful distracted driving messages shared among as many high school students as possible. Any parent knows that teens may not always listen to them at home, but they may be more open to what their own peers have to say about this important safety message.

So feel free to share this blog post and help spread the word.

To view more details about each winner and their submissions, please visit our scholarship webpage.

And for those of you who missed this year’s deadline, the “2017 Kelsey’s Law Scholarship – Stop Distracted Driving Contest” is now open for submissions. The deadline to apply is August 31, 2017. To apply, click here.

Michigan’s teen cell phone ban

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.

Our attorneys send our sincere thank you to Bonnie Raffaele, for her extraordinary advocacy work and her generous help with this scholarship contest. Our thoughts are with her and Kelsey.

National Teen Driver Safety Week runs October 16-22. It’s dedicated to raising awareness and seeking solutions to preventable teen deaths and injuries on the road. It began in 2007 after a series of tragic crashes involving Pennsylvania high school students. Get involved at your school or in your community by sharing safety messages with your peers.

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