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Congrats to our 2018 Kelsey’s Law Distracted Driving Awareness Scholarship winners!

October 22, 2018 by Steven M. Gursten

Two Michigan college students and two high school students are winners of the Michigan Auto Law Distracted Driving Awareness Scholarship with powerful messages about the dangers of distracted driving

2018 Kelsey's Law Distracted Driving Awareness Scholarship winners
Top: Isabel Wallace, Bonnie Raffaele and Mikaylah Duffield; Bottom Left: Jenna Robinson and Principal Brian Wiskur; Bottom Right: Principal Jared Vickers and Caleb Warner.

As National Teen Driver Safety Week begins, our attorneys at Michigan Auto Law are proud to announce the winners of the 2018 Kelsey’s Law Distracted Driving Awareness Scholarship.

A total of $5,000 in college scholarships was awarded among our four winners for the creative and persuasive messages they created via video, graphic and Tweet to help to educate teen drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.

Our attorneys created this scholarship because we’ve been alarmed by the staggering increase we’ve seen in car accidents that are caused by people texting and driving distracted. While we speak at high schools on distracted driving, we also know that messages resonate loudest when it comes from other teens about the dangers of distracted driving.

The Kelsey’s Law scholarship was created to honor the life and memory of Kelsey Raffaele, and the incredible work of her mother Bonnie, who inspired and worked with lawmakers in the Michigan Legislature to enact Kelsey’s Law in this state. Kelsey’s Law prohibits teen drivers from using cell phones while driving. At 17 years of age, Kelsey’s life was cut short by a fatal distracted driving accident.

After Kelsey’s horrible and untimely death from distracted driving, Kelsey’s mother Bonnie Raffaele of Sault Ste. Marie worked tirelessly to raise awareness of just how dangerous distracted driving is.  Distracted driving poses an even higher risk for teen drivers.

Bonnie is an incredible woman. In addition to promoting her “Kids Driving Responsibly” program at schools, Bonnie also shares a “Put Your Phone on Ice” message at local hockey games. It has been a true honor working with Bonnie on the Kelsey’s Law Scholarship and helping to spread awareness for drivers.

Let’s meet the winners of the 2018 Kelsey’s Law Distracted Driving Awareness Scholarship

Below are the four scholarship winners whose creative and compelling submissions will hopefully change the way people think about distracted driving and, thus, save lives.

Best Overall Winner: Isabel Wallace – Eisenhower High School, Shelby Township, MI

Michigan Auto Law 2018 Kelsey's Law Scholarship Overal Winner Isabel Wallace
Pictured (L to R): Attorney Brandon Hewitt, Isabel Wallace, Bonnie Raffaele, Ron Raffaele and Attorney Steve Gursten


Isabel graduated from Eisenhower High School in Shelby Township this past June and is a freshman at Michigan State University. She used humor to create a video message showing how difficult it is for teens (and for all of us, really) to do two things at once – especially something like driving while using the phone where the stakes can be life or death. We thought this video was particularly compelling given the widely-held, albeit very mistaken, belief that so many people have that they can safely multi-task when driving behind the wheel.

Best Video: Mikaylah Duffield – Columbia Central High School, Brooklyn, MI

Michigan Auto Law 2018 Kelsey's Law Scholarship Best Video Winner Mikaylah Duffield
Pictured (l to r): Attorney Brandon Hewitt, Mikaylah Duffield, Bonnie Raffaele, Ron Raffaele and Attorney Steve Gursten.

A freshman at Lansing Community College, Mikaylah graduated in June from Columbia Central High School, south of Jackson. Mikaylah’s video depicts a distracted teen driver who fails to see a skateboarder in the roadway until it’s too late, resulting in serious injuries to both the skateboarder and a passenger in the distracted driver’s car.

Best Graphic: Caleb Warner – Western High School, Parma, MI

Kelsey’s Law Distracted Driving Scholarship 2018 Winner for Best Graphic: Caleb Warner
Pictured with Caleb is Western High School Principal Dr. Jared Vickers.

Kelsey's Law Distracted Driving Scholarship Best Graphic 2018

Caleb, a senior at Western High School just west of Jackson, created a graphic that helps teen drivers visualize how dangerous distracted driving is. Using an image of a child in front of the car, Caleb makes emotional plea for safe driving with the caption:

“It won’t kill your friend if you put the phone down, but it might cost someone else their life if you don’t…”

Best Tweet: Jenna Robinson – Kearsley High School, Flint, MI

Kelsey’s Law Distracted Driving Scholarship 2018 Winner for Best Tweet: Jenna Robinson
Pictured with Jenna is Kearsley High School Principal Brian Wiskur.

Kelsey’s Law Distracted Driving Scholarship Best Tweet 2018

Jenna currently attends Kearsley High School, northeast of Flint, where she’s a senior. In her winning, Tweet, Jenna talked both poetically and prophetically about the dangers faced by texting teen drivers:

“For every glance away, there’s a larger price to pay. Don’t take the chance. Stop driving distracted NOW.”

All four winners’ submissions as well as photos of them accepting their scholarship awards from Bonnie can be found on the Kelsey’s Law Winners page.

Why is the Kelsey’s Law Distracted Driving Awareness Scholarship so important?

By inspiring young drivers to spread the word about distracted driving’s dangers, we will hopefully stop these following troubling statistics:

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • “Nine percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the fatal crashes.” (“Distracted Driving 2015,” NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts/Research Note, March 2017)

The 2019 Kelsey’s Law Scholarship — Stop Distracted Driving Contest is now open for submissions. The deadline to apply is August 31, 2019. To apply, visit our Kelsey’s Law Scholarship page.

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