Our Impact

Our Impact

Steve Kiefer Appointed to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission (GTSAC)

The Kiefer Foundation Chairman Steve Kiefer has been appointed to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission (GTSAC) by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The purpose of the GTSAC is to provide leadership in the identification of state and local traffic safety issues and promote recommended strategies to address them.

“It means a great deal to be personally appointed to the GTSAC by Governor Whitmer,” said Kiefer. “From our very first meeting, she has embraced our family and our mission to end distracted driving and increase safety on our Michigan roads.”

About the Kiefer Foundation

On April 30, Steve Kiefer, Juliana Kiefer & Blake Kiefer testified in front of the Michigan House Transportation Committee in support of three bills that are proposed to help make Michigan roads safer by expanding current no texting laws.

“I really hope that you guys can all find it in your hearts to help us make the roads safer and really save lives around Michigan and around the country,” said Blake Kiefer.

The Kiefer Foundation supports hands free legislation, which will ultimately ban the use of all hand held devices while driving. Similar laws have been adopted in 18 states, and have significantly reduced crashes and fatalities.

The Kiefer Foundation is directing all Michigan supporters to send a letter to their representative via handsfreemichigan.org.

The Kiefer Foundation Is Seeking a Hands Free Law in Michigan

Mitchel Kiefer should have turned 21 on March 27, 2019, but the Michigan State freshman never made it to his 19th birthday.

Mitchel was rear-ended by a distracted driver on Sept. 19, 2016, forcing him into oncoming traffic on I-96. His vehicle was hit by a truck and Mitchel was killed instantly.

So, instead of celebrating Mitchel’s 21st birthday with him, Mitchel’s family facilitated a press conference with the Detroit Police Department to introduce a new legislation to end distracted driving in the State of Michigan.

“Today this is where we celebrate Mitchel’s 21st birthday,” said Steve Kiefer, Chairman of The Kiefer Foundation as he displayed a picture of Mitchel’s gravesite.

“It doesn’t get any easier. It’s the hardest thing that a parent can ever go through. It was an event that it turns out is defining our lives and we decided as a family to try to do something in Mitchel’s memory to basically change the world.”

Played at the press conference was a video clip of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s State of the State address in which she articulated her support of a hands free legislation in the State of Michigan.

While 47 states currently have no-texting laws in place, they are virtually unenforceable. What has been proven to change driver behavior is hands free laws.

“(Sixteen) states actually have hands free laws on books,” said Kiefer. “In these 16 states, the number of crashes, the number of fatalities, and the number of cell phone-related crashes are down significantly. This is really common sense. We need to have hands free laws here in the state of Michigan.”

The Detroit Police Department is in full support of a hands free law, recognizing the devastating effects of distracted driving. Detroit Police Chief James Craig cited multiple examples at Wednesday’s press conference.

“On Wednesday March 13th of this year, around 7:45 in the evening, a distracted driver who was texting on his phone struck a 77-year-old female pedestrian crossing McNichols near Hope Drive,” said Craig.

“When the officers arrived they found the driver, a 22-year-old man, near the rear of his vehicle in a state of panic. And all he could say was, ‘I just killed someone.’ Later, the women did in fact succumb to her injuries.”

Unfortunately, those scenarios are playing out more and more as drivers are using their phones behind the wheel.

“We’re looking at another awkward trend this year for distracted driving where over 70 people died and over 7,000 were injured in more than 19,000 distracted driving crashes,” said Lieutenant Mike Shaw.

“We’ve made it very clear to the troopers on the road that distracted driving has to stop – it’s an epidemic.”

The Kiefer Foundation wants to stop that epidemic, launching a nonprofit, grassroots movement to put a hands free law in place by July of 2019. The initial goal of that campaign is to get 100,000 letters supporting hands free legislation within the month of April.

“The month of April is National Distracted Driver Awareness Month,” said Kiefer. “We’re hoping in this month of April to get 100,000 letters to your representatives showing support for a bipartisan bill that will end distracted driving through hands free legislation.”

To learn more about the Hands Free Michigan movement and to submit a letter, visit handsfreemichigan.org.

Kiefer Foundation Holds 2nd Annual Swing for Safe Driving Golf Outing

The Kiefer Foundation held it’s 2nd Annual Swing for Safe Driving Golf Outing at Oakland Hills Country Club on Monday, June 11. The event stands as a way to honor the late Mitchel Kiefer while raising funds for and bringing awareness to the dangers of distracted driving.

“We lost Mitchel about 21 months ago,” said Kiefer Foundation Chairman and Mitchel’s father, Steve Kiefer. “People say it gets easier but … it doesn’t. We think about him every day. We miss him every day. We can’t help think about the amazing, amazing things he was destined to do.

“It’s hard to measure things that don’t happen. It’s hard to measure crashes that don’t occur, deaths that don’t happen, but for all the things we’re doing with your help, I honestly believe we’re saving lives. For that, to each and every one of you, thank you for helping us change the world in Mitchel’s honor.”

In his comments, Kiefer referenced the progress made in the calendar year since the Kiefer Foundation’s inaugural golf outing. Shortly after the previous year’s event, the Kiefer Foundation and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) partnered to put up approximately 1.7 miles of guard rails at the point of Mitchel’s crash on I-96.

“I believe now six cars have hit those guard rails,” said Kiefer. “Six cars, six families, are not facing what we face because of those guard rails. When we’re done with today, we just signed the deal to do the next two miles and with the funds we raise tonight, the next two miles will be done this summer.”

Changing Driving Behavior with Key Partners

Mitchel KieferKiefer referenced a number of projects and partnerships that have come to fruition this past year, including Swing for Safe Driving presenting sponsor Lear Corporation’s distracted driving center at their headquarters in Southfield, Mich.

“They did a kickoff last fall and invited a few hundred of us in,” said Kiefer. “This is an amazing facility where the Lear team has made a commitment to educate 100,000 people on the dangers of distracted driving.”

Jennifer Smith, the CEO and Founder of stopdistractions.org, was also in attendance. Jennifer lost her mother to a distracted driver nearly 10 years ago and has committed herself to helping pass legislation in each state to end distracted driving.

“Through her work, we have no-texting laws in 48 states, but, frankly, the no-texting laws don’t work because the police can’t enforce them because you can’t tell if somebody’s texting.

“So she’s now on this crusade to get hands-free legislation in every state. Sixteen states have adopted hands-free legislation, so if you hold your phone in a car, it’s a primary offense. You’ll be pulled over, you’ll be ticketed. This is what Europe does. This is what Canada does. This is what every other country does. This is what we need to do.”

Drag racing star Doug Herbert, who lost his two sons – Jon and James – to a horrific car accident in 2008 was in attendance. Doug is the founder of BRAKES, a nonprofit that educates young people on safe driving.

“Doug Herbert and his foundation have educated more than 30,000 kids on safe driving, including my two daughters,” said Kiefer. “Thank you, Doug, for the amazing work that you’re doing.”

Kiefer also announced a BRAKES class that will take place on Belle Isle, September 29 and 30, with the support of Roger Penske.

Mike Seymour and the PEERS Foundation had their white Camaro with a simulator at the Swing for Safe Driving event. PEERS has visited more than 100 schools and at least 50 events with that simulator to teach young people the dangers of distracted driving.

“We put young people in the car, they wear augmented reality, we distract them, and they see what it’s like to crash a car,” said Kiefer. “It changes behavior and I can’t tell you how many messages I’m getting from parents and students that have been impacted by the PEERS simulator.

“That’s changing lives, that’s changing behavior, and thank you to PEERS for the work that you’re doing.”

Inspiring Change

Steve KieferIn the midst of the 100 Deadliest Days – the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the number of crashes and fatalities increases by 15 percent – Steve Kiefer announced a new initiative.

The Kiefer Foundation is challenging young people to come up with a 30-second video that will explain how they are going to stop their friends from distracted driving.

“Not our voice – not old people – young people are going to do this around the country,” said Kiefer.

The Kiefer Foundation is offering $50,000 in scholarships for the top videos submitted to Instagram and YouTube. The top five videos will be identified and the winner will receive a substantial scholarship and will be flown to Los Angeles to re-record the video at Mark Wahlberg’s studio.

“We’re so excited about this national campaign,” said Kiefer. “It’s trying to cover this period of summer – the 100 deadliest days. I hate to say this, but your kids, someone they know, or someone in their social media network will have a serious accident this summer.

“We just can’t let that happen.”

Stay tuned to learn more about the Kiefer Foundation’s national campaign!

The Kiefer Foundation and MDOT Partner to Add More Cable Median Barrier on Michigan Highways

On August 28, 2017, The Kiefer Foundation along with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced a partnership to improve safety on Michigan highways using protective cable median barrier. The partnership between MDOT and the Kiefer Foundation adds 1.7 miles of protective cable median barrier on I-96 from Doan Creek to east of Dietz Road in Ingham County.

The winning team of the Inaugural Swing for Safe Driving Ball Golf Tournament hoist the honorary Mitchel Kiefer Trophy

The First Annual Swing for Safe Driving Ball Golf Tournament Honors Mitchel Kiefer and Raises Over $600K

On August 14, 2017 The Kiefer Foundation hosted the first annual “Swing for Safe Driving” Ball Golf Tournament in honor of Mitchel Kiefer. 140 golfers attended the inaugural event held at the Walnut Creek Country Club in South Lyon and were treated to a beautiful day of golf and camaraderie. This year’s event raised an astounding $618K and more importantly brought additional attention to the dangers of distracted driving.

Play with Purpose: Charity Hockey Game Helps to End Distracted Driving

The annual Gallagher-Kaiser Charity Hockey Game was held in honor of Mitchel Kiefer on August 11, 2017. This year’s event brought awareness to The Kiefer Foundation whose mission is to end distracted driving. The star-studded roster featured Chris Chelios, Igor Larionov, Tie Domi, Zach Werenski, Boone Jenner and Steven Oleksy among others.

Learn more about the event and Mitchel’s story

Michigan State University Awards Mitchel Kiefer with Honorary Bachelor of Science Degree in Neuroscience

Mitchel Kiefer was awarded a honorary Bachelor of Science Degree in Neuroscience yesterday in East Lansing, Michigan. The honorary degree was presented to Mitchel’s family by Michigan State University President Lou Ann Simon. It was an amazing day for the Kiefer family and an outstanding accomplishment for Mitchel.

Cutco recognizes Mitchel Kiefer at Annual Awards Ceremony

Recently, Cutco Knives honored the Kiefer Family by naming their Standards Award after Mitchel, who was a top salesman of the knives. Below is a copy of the presentation from the event.