New law limits teen cell use while driving
LANSING – Beginning today, teen drivers with Level 1 or Level 2 licenses under the Graduated Driver Licensing program are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving. Known as Kelsey’s Law, the restriction was named in honor of Kelsey Raffaele, 17, of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., who was tragically killed in a cell phonerelated crash in 2010.
The Put Your Phone in Park public information campaign will include billboards, posters and brochures to encourage compliance. Many groups are assisting with promoting the law to ensure parents and teen drivers are aware of the new, potentially life-saving driving restriction. The campaign is supported through federal traffic safety funds from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning.
“Born from tragedy, Kelsey’s Law will help novice drivers focus solely on driving,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “The largest contributing factors to teen traffic crashes are inexperience and immaturity. Driver distractions only exacerbate these situations so we hope teens will remember to put their phone in park.” Violations of Kelsey’s Law will be a civil infraction with fines up to $100 as well as possible additional costs up to $100. There are no points associated with this civil infraction and it does not impact status in the GDL program. Exemptions to the law include emergency situations and handsfree devices.
In 2011 in Michigan, 52 people were killed and 452 were seriously injured in crashes involving drivers ages 17 and younger. Of those fatalities, 16 were a 14-17-year-old driver.
Level 1 and Level 2 license holders are between 14 years, 9 months old and 17 years old.
The Michigan Legislature approved Kelsey’s Law at the end of the 2012 legislative session. The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, and supported through the efforts of Kelsey’s mother, Bonnie.