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
Kiefer 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.”
In 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!