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Michigan's 'Kelsey’s Law' honours Sault teen

Wednesday, January 09, 2013   by: Staff



Governor signs Walker Bill banning cell phone use by teen drivers

LANSING, MI - Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday signed legislation prohibiting young drivers from using cell phones while behind the wheel, said bill sponsor Sen. Howard Walker.

The measure is called “Kelsey’s Law,” in honor of Kelsey Raffaele, a Sault Ste. Marie [Michigan] teenager who was killed in a car accident in January 2010 while talking on her cell phone.

“The death of Kelsey is an unimaginable loss for her family, friends and community. We must do all we can to prevent similar tragedies from occurring,” said Walker, R-Traverse City. “This law is an important part of the solution because it helps remove unnecessary distractions for inexperienced drivers.”

Multiple studies have shown that teen drivers are much more likely than any other age group to be involved in a fatal crash where distraction is reported.

According to an MLive Media Group analysis, one in five drivers using a cell phone during crashes since 2002 were teenagers.

Public Act 592 of 2012, previously Senate Bill 756, bans an individual with a Level 1 or 2 graduated license from talking on a cell phone while driving.

The law is a civil infraction and a primary offense, meaning a police officer can stop someone for the offense without any other reason.

"Unfortunately teenagers don’t always listen when their parents tell them what to do, such as hanging up the phone while driving. That’s when tragedies happen,” said Walker. “Now parents will have the law backing them up. This is no longer just good advice for young drivers.”

State Rep. Frank Foster attended the bill signing and praised Walker’s legislation.

Foster, along with Walker, represents Kelsey Raffaele’s mother Bonnie Raffaele in the Legislature.

“Kelsey was a bright, beautiful young girl who was taken from us too soon,” said Foster, R-Petoskey. “Passing this law in her memory is appropriate not only to remember her, but because we will be able to save countless lives of other teenagers.”

The law includes exemptions for reporting a traffic accident, a medical emergency or a crime.

It also allows a driver to use a voice-operated system that is integrated into the vehicle, such as OnStar.


Pictured: Gov. Rick Snyder signs legislation prohibiting young drivers from using cell phones while driving, while bill sponsor Sen. Howard Walker (second from right) looks on.

Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Gates 1/9/2013 12:48:44 PM Report

This new law should apply to not only the yong drivers but drivers of all ages. Using a cell phone to talk or text while driving is a distraction for drivers of any age. Just because you are and older driver doesn't make you a safer driver.
firefly42 1/9/2013 1:31:55 PM Report

It is a great way to honour Kelsey! I agree with "Gates" though, the law should include all drivers.
RNW 1/9/2013 2:31:41 PM Report

I agree with the other posts and bravo for a first step. The story makes it clear that 20% of the accidents caused due to distraction involved younger drivers; obviously the other 80% need to be legislated to stay off the phone while operating a vehicle.
ehbcd2 1/9/2013 2:47:19 PM Report

According to an MLive Media Group analysis, one in five drivers using a cell phone during crashes since 2002 were teenagers.

Not trying to take away from this, I think it's a good thing, but their numbers would suggest that 4 out of 5 were adults. So why not ban cell phones for everyone while driving unless they are hands free.
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