“One of the things I often say to people is, ‘Why do you have to lose someone to change your behavior?'” Kiefer said. “So many people will hear this story and be like, ‘Oh my God, I’m sorry for them, it’s terrible.’ is not.”
With holiday car crashes and distracted driving on the rise, Kiefer is turning his attention to what he can control and what he thinks Michigan is lacking.
According to the latest Michigan State Police data, distracted driving crashes in Michigan will increase about 15% year-over-year in 2021, reversing the downward trend since 2017. Last year, there were a total of 1,131 fatalities recorded in Michigan, the most in 16 years.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced road use, dangerous driving has been on the rise. Officials have cited faster speeds as one reason he did. Kiefer attributes it also to his work remotely and the need to be constantly connected via his mobile phone with text his messages, Slack, Zoom, and more.
To address this problem, the Kiefer Foundation has helped push for distracted driving reform across the country. Having recently passed a “hands-free” law, he’s part of nine state initiatives. About half of the states have adopted “hands-free” driving laws, which ban the use of cell phones while driving. In Michigan, which only bans emailing and driving, we’re working with legislators to do the same.
Since being elected in 2019, Birmingham Democrat MP Mari Manoojian has been working to reform distracted driving. Last year, she and Rep. Mike Muller (R-Linden) and Joe Bellino (R-Monroe) introduced a package of three bills. Prohibit tailgate driving.
“I have always likened this law to a modernization of the existing distracted driving law,” said Manoogian. “Our legislation will modernize these laws to basically eliminate the idiosyncrasies of texting and make it all-encompassing.”
The package passed the House in January, but was blocked from a vote in the Senate.
“It was the first bill I put forward as a delegate. …We basically ran out of time,” said Manoogian, whose term expires at the end of the year.
Kiefer said he is confident the distraction driving law reform will be passed early next year. A new Congress ruled by Democrats.
“Hopefully we will have a big celebration by next spring,” he said. “But more importantly, these laws are enacted, and these laws will reduce deaths next summer. I am confident of that.”
Kiefer’s efforts have garnered endorsements from prominent auto industry executives, including actor Mark Wahlberg and soccer player Tom Brady, who helped promote the foundation’s “Just Drive” campaign. . Companies such as GM, Lear Corp., Magna International, American Axle & Manufacturing Inc., and Forvia support the movement.
“When Steve first told me that he was honoring Mitchell by creating a foundation to end distracted driving, I immediately felt compelled to support his efforts,” said Lear CEO Ray Scott. “His foundation is working to make a difference and end the suffering caused by these horrific accidents.”
AAM Chairman and CEO David Dauch also supports this mission.
“There is no easier or faster way to prevent car-related deaths than putting your phone down,” Dauch said in a statement. “I’m passionate about this issue because I can’t resist the urge to text or call and it changes the lives of family and friends forever.”
Since its inception, the foundation has raised nearly $2 million to fund awareness campaigns and educational demonstrations across the country. Its largest fundraising event is a spring golf event at the Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The Honorary Chairman of the event, scheduled for May 22 next year, is Matt Simoncini, former President and CEO of Lear.
Kiefer said he plans to dedicate at least six months to the foundation alone before returning to work in the auto industry. His personal mission remains a priority.
“It hurts to talk about this, but if we keep talking about it, people will start to personalize it, and hopefully with that and some legislation…we feel we can change behavior.” He said.
https://www.autonews.com/executives/ex-gm-exec-steve-kiefer-fights-distracted-driving-reform Former GM executive Steve Kiefer fights for distracted driving reform