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Kiefer Foundation works to end distracted driving


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as any exercise that diverts consideration from driving, together with speaking or texting in your telephone, consuming and ingesting, speaking to folks in your automobile and twiddling with the stereo, leisure or navigation system. Something that takes your consideration away from the duty of protected driving.

Texting is essentially the most alarming distraction. Sending or studying a textual content takes your eyes off the highway for 5 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that is like driving the size of a complete soccer discipline along with your eyes closed. You can’t drive safely except the duty of driving has your full consideration. Any non-driving exercise you interact in is a possible distraction and will increase your danger of crashing.
 

Utilizing a mobile phone whereas driving creates monumental potential for deaths and accidents on U.S. roads. In 2018 alone, greater than 2,800 folks have been killed in motorized vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

On September nineteenth, 2016, MSU freshmen Mitchel Kiefer was tragically killed in an auto accident attributable to a distracted driver on I-96 on Mitchel’s technique to the MSU campus. Steve Kiefer is Mitchel’s father. Steve earned a bachelor’s diploma in mechanical engineering from Michigan State College, and he’s a member of the Michigan State College Faculty of Engineering Alumni Affiliation Advisory Board. He is GM’s key govt at Michigan State College and is a member of GM’s senior management group. He’s senior vice chairman and president of Basic Motors, South America and Worldwide Operations, that means he is accountable for GM operations exterior of North America and China.

Quickly after Mitchel’s loss of life, Steve based The Kiefer Foundation to honor Mitchel’s legacy. The mission of The Kiefer Foundation is to finish distracted driving and all related site visitors deaths and accidents. The muse focuses on three pillars to assist its mission, consciousness, expertise and coverage. Inside every of those pillars are particular targets they hope to attain and initiatives through which they hope to get entangled. They’ve already made some progress, however nonetheless have an extended technique to go.

“Till one thing like this occurs to you personally, I do not suppose folks actually perceive the magnitude of this drawback,” Kiefer says. “It is essential for folks to understand that, around the globe, as a result of it is a world drawback, 1.25 million individuals are killed on the highways of the world yearly. It is an enormous quantity. Some 50 million are injured or disabled yearly in automobile crashes and pedestrian associated automobile crashes around the globe. We lose someplace between 35,000 and 40,000 folks on the highways of america annually. It is a staggering quantity.
 

“The parents who do the evaluation on distracted driving estimate that about 10 % of these are on account of distracted driving. We actually consider that quantity is manner underneath reported. As a matter of reality, the stats would typically say that 94 % of crashes that happen on the highways are on account of some sort of human error. It could possibly be rushing or ingesting and driving or drowsiness, however we all know a big proportion of these are distracted driving. The straightforward statistic that I feel is most staggering is that, on this nation, 10 folks on daily basis are killed by distracted driving. And it is simply, once more, till you undergo it, it is simply onerous for me to think about that at present and tomorrow and the following day, on daily basis, we’ll have one other 10 folks, one other 10 households going by way of what my household has gone by way of. And it actually is among the prime motivators for us to get one thing finished right here and actually convey an finish to distracted driving.

“The story by no means will get simpler to inform, however as you mentioned, it was September nineteenth of 2016 – the worst day of our lives. Mitchel was in his first month at MSU. He had come residence for a pleasant weekend to go see a Lions recreation. He was driving as much as MSU on I-96 early Monday morning about 7:50. It was an exquisite Monday morning, the solar was out, the roads have been dry, and there was no purpose for a crash to happen. There was somewhat little bit of site visitors congestion. The site visitors slowed down, and Mitchel slowed down. The younger woman behind him didn’t. She impacted Mitchel’s automobile at about 82 miles an hour.

“As most individuals in all probability know, when airbags deploy, there is a flight recording operate inside trendy vehicles. You get the forensics from the automobile. It was clear that the automobile was going 82 miles an hour, but in addition that, on the time of affect, the driving force’s foot was on the throttle, not on the brake. That is a fairly clear indication that the younger woman was not paying consideration and by no means touched the brakes. That resulted in Mitchel being rear-ended and pushed throughout a really slender median on I-96 close to Dietz Highway, a slender median that had no guardrails on the time. Mitchel was pushed into oncoming site visitors the place he was hit by a big truck and killed immediately.

“It is a horrific factor to suppose that one small act of lack of paying consideration, of distraction, can simply actually destroy lives without end.”

The Kiefer Foundation focuses on three pillars to assist its mission, consciousness, expertise and coverage.

“Initially, we realized how giant this drawback is, and curiously sufficient, we referred to it as a world pandemic a number of years in the past earlier than the more moderen pandemic,” Kiefer continues. “And I actually consider that it’s a world pandemic. That is actually, as I lined within the earlier stats, inflicting deaths and disabling accidents all around the world. So we felt, at the start, it was essential to make as many individuals notice this as doable. You do discover that there are households like ours all around the nation which have an identical aim. We do issues like promoting, billboards, and a variety of neighborhood occasions to assist elevate consciousness. We engaged with a nonprofit group in Grand Rapids, Michigan referred to as the PEERS Foundation, which brings simulators into colleges and church buildings across the state and across the nation to teach younger folks on the hazards of distracted driving.

“We’re in a position to put them in a automobile and allow them to drive in a simulated trend after which distract them and present the way it causes crashes. We additionally had the chance to do some issues to memorialize Mitchel and to create consciousness. “Mitchel was a hockey participant. He went to Detroit Catholic Central. He was a part of the 2016 State Championship Catholic Central Hockey Workforce. And he was a goalie. They received that state championship at a USA Hockey rink in Plymouth, Michigan. We labored with the USA Hockey Basis and truly devoted that rink in Mitchel’s honor. In order that ice rink is now referred to as the Mitchel Kiefer Memorial Ice Rink, which actually feels good from the attitude of a father to memorialize your son.
 

“Extra importantly, we did not simply put Mitchel’s identify on the rink. It is lined with distracted driving messages. There is a locker room that has a video that runs with distracted driver statistics and different messages. There are 500,000 individuals who go to that ice rink annually for numerous actions, whether or not it is hockey video games, ice skating competitions, or determine skating competitions. And I am unable to let you know how many individuals contact me and say, ‘Mr. Kiefer, we’re in your son’s ice rink proper now. And it is given me a chance to speak to my kids and my household about these risks and your message is having a big impact on this ice rink alone.’ There are a number of different examples I might give, however that is in all probability the one which’s sort of closest to my coronary heart as a result of each time I go to that ice rink, it is such fond recollections of Mitchel and the state championship, but in addition a very efficient technique to unfold a message of driver security.

“There are a lot of facets to the expertise pillar. In some instances, it is associated to consciousness and educating those that you might want to be extra cautious when driving. There are a variety of expertise instruments that folks could be utilizing proper now. One is utilizing the protected driving mode and don’t disturb mode in your Apple telephones and your Android telephones. These instruments work very effectively in the event you can simply get everybody that you realize and your households and associates to make use of these instruments. Primarily, they disable the telephone from receiving texts or calls whenever you’re driving.

“There are a variety of newer applied sciences which are being developed, driver monitoring instruments by some distributors which are watching the driving force as they drive and recording these items. They hopefully alert drivers when their eyes will not be on the highway for a brief interval. These applied sciences are being developed. There are different applied sciences associated to blocking the usage of telephones like telephone baggage that, if the telephone is within the bag, it could actually’t obtain a sign.

“After which perhaps the ultimate one which we’re actually fairly pleased with and it is somewhat little bit of a stretch on the expertise theme, is the idea of those cable guardrails. I described in my opening feedback concerning the circumstances of Mitchel’s crash. Had there been a guardrail on that slender median on I-96, it could have stopped Mitchel’s automobile from going into oncoming site visitors and he in all probability would not have even been injured in any respect. We labored with the Michigan Division of Transportation on these quite simple cable guardrails that you just see all around the state. We really did a co-funding venture half sponsored by the Kiefer Foundation and half sponsored by MDOT to place in about 5 miles of cable guardrails on the level the place Mitchel’s crash occurred.

“Now, once we did that, we actually thought it was sort of a ceremonial factor. I simply wished that precise level on the freeway to be protected. I could not think about, however inside the first 12 months, that guardrail was hit 12 occasions. Easy expertise like these cable guardrails is actually fairly cheap and cost-effective, and we all know this one saved 12 lives in that quick time period. You proceed to see it all around the state the place you see these cable guardrails which were broken or knocked down. They’re efficient and they’re saving lives.”

Kiefer is focusing most of his time and a focus on the coverage pillar.

“Whereas consciousness and expertise are essential, we additionally notice that laws and coverage could be a particularly essential piece of this. Replicate again on the progress that is been made, I might say in my lifetime, for the reason that Eighties and ’90s, on drunk driving in these many years. It was an enormous drawback. We noticed a bunch of very motivated and really influential folks referred to as Moms In opposition to Drunk Driving get very energetic within the legislative entrance and within the courts.
 

“They first made certain that there have been very stiff drunk driving legal guidelines in place. Second, they sat within the courtrooms and made certain that anyone who was responsible of these items obtained very extreme punishment. And once I was younger, that appeared like a loopy group of individuals. And quite a lot of us did not perceive it, till you lose a toddler, you then notice precisely why they have been doing what they’re doing. In the event you look through the years now, the drunk driving occurrences have utterly modified, and I might even say culturally. If you consider the youthful era proper now, I do know my children would by no means even take into account getting behind a wheel after ingesting. They equate it to holding up a financial institution or one thing. You would not do one thing like that. So conduct has modified utterly. And there are actually providers out there like Uber and Lyft, which have additionally actually helped convey down the necessity for anybody to be driving underneath the affect.

“If I quick ahead to the legal guidelines that we’re engaged on now it is about hands-free laws. And actually it principally says that in the event you’re in a automobile and also you’re holding the telephone for any purpose, it turns into a main offense. Regulation enforcement can see it, and so they can pull you over and also you obtain a extreme ticket. By the way in which, this isn’t uncommon. That is what most developed nations do around the globe. I’ve spent a few years residing in Europe. In Europe, in the event you maintain your telephone within the automobile, it is immediately a 400 or 500 Euro penalty. So it isn’t a brand new or uncommon observe, however we’re making an attempt to get these arms free legal guidelines applied in each state within the nation.
 

“We actually consider that if the legal guidelines are in place after which the attention and enforcement are in place, and that is actually essential, that we’ve got a software that legislation enforcement can use. As a result of proper now, legal guidelines that ban texting nonetheless permit folks to carry the telephone within the automobile. And it is simply unattainable for legislation enforcement to find out what an individual is doing on their telephone to differentiate between texting and telephone utilization. We consider that the hands-free legal guidelines will give legislation enforcement a software that may principally be capable to change conduct. After which by way of enforcement and training, we’re optimistic that we are able to convey down the site visitors crashes considerably. And I might simply say that the info helps this effort. Each state that has applied these legal guidelines has seen important reductions in crashes and deaths because of these hands-free legal guidelines.

“We’re within the strategy of re-energizing a marketing campaign that we seek advice from as Hands-Free Michigan. We first launched this a few years in the past, and we agreed to take a little bit of a pause in the course of the newest pandemic final 12 months, however it’s time now to get re-energized on this. There are actually 25 states which have these hands-free legal guidelines in place. Sadly, we’ve not been in a position to get the legislation handed right here in Michigan. There is a invoice that is being developed and sponsored within the Home proper now in Michigan. Our hope and expectation is to get as many individuals on board as doable to assist this invoice and to assist the passing of a legislation. Now we have a aim right here to principally get the invoice introduced ahead and thru the State Legislature and handed into legislation by September of this 12 months.”

Kiefer shares his knowledge on the state and way forward for the automotive trade, and, particularly, Basic Motors.

“I could not be extra excited than I’m at present as to the place we’re headed as an trade and the place we’re headed as Basic Motors.
 

“Now we have a imaginative and prescient at GM of a way forward for zero crashes, zero emissions, and 0 congestion. On this idea of zero crashes, as we get to autonomous driving, and we’ll, we’re satisfied that this can basically remove all site visitors crashes associated to human error. We’re optimistic about that, however sadly, that is a few years sooner or later. Within the meantime, I personally consider that ending distracted driving and holding drivers’ eyes on the highway and arms on the wheel might be the most effective factor we are able to do to scale back crashes within the quick time period.

“On zero emissions, we consider in an all-electric future and plan to roll out an entire portfolio of latest battery electrical autos.

“Electrification has many varieties, however in its broadest sense, it is the thought of transferring from propulsion techniques which are based mostly on inside combustion engines like gasoline and diesel engines into propulsion techniques which are pushed by electrical motors and electrical energy. I say it that manner as a result of I feel even gas cells, hydrogen gas cells, that are in our future as effectively, are one other technique to produce electrical energy for an electrical automobile. We’re centered on this all-electric future, which is actually about battery electrical autos, and you may begin to see an increasing number of of them roll out.”

Challenges and alternatives for GM to succeed in these mobility targets?

“The sky is the restrict right here. Expertise at all times comes with challenges and danger, however I feel one problem is making certain a pipeline of extraordinarily shiny, clever, motivated folks for these jobs. I am excited in my position collaborating with the MSU Faculty of Engineering to assist outline a few of these wants in order that we get a few of the finest new engineers coming into our firm. I feel our story at Basic Motors proper now could be completely implausible. And I feel it is actually serving to us as a result of I am unable to let you know how many individuals wish to be part of the trigger, wish to be part of Basic Motors, whether or not it is younger engineering college students and even seasoned trade veterans. Lots of people wish to Basic Motors and eager to be a part of the longer term success story.
 

“The human capital and getting the fitting folks in is at all times essential and a problem, however I feel we’re effectively positioned. The opposite factor is, there’s an entire space of legislative and infrastructure challenges concerned in getting electrical charging in place in nations all around the world. After which as you progress to the thought of eradicating the driving force from the automobile in these really autonomous autos, security is absolutely the highest precedence. There are some fairly cautious and time-consuming legislative hurdles that should be overcome.”

Kiefer talks about why MSU was the fitting college for him popping out of highschool and extra about his position on the MSU College of Engineering Alumni Association Advisory Board.

What does he need listeners to bear in mind and take away from our dialog?

“First, actually take into consideration the thought of what would it not really feel like if this occurred to you? It is actually onerous to get folks’s consideration and involvement till they personalize it. So, I simply ask everybody to consider what you are able to do otherwise? What would you do to guard your life and your kids’s lives and your loved ones in the event you thought that one thing you might do otherwise at present may save them tomorrow from a distracted driving associated accident? That is a tough factor to think about, however I would ask folks to acknowledge that we by no means in our lives imagined one thing like this might occur to us. After which in the future your life is shattered.

“It is about private accountability. This can be a behavioral change and each one in every of us has to take part. I am barely embarrassed to confess how actively distracted I used to drive earlier than this occurred to me. I used to be any individual who might drive rather well with my knee on the wheel whereas wanting on the telephone in a single hand and perhaps ingesting a espresso in one other. And I assumed I used to be very cautious about it as a result of I knew the dangers. However I nonetheless admit that I did it. After which it occurs to you and also you notice simply how mindless that’s. From a private accountability standpoint, if folks might simply actually internalize that and say, ‘I do not should be on this telephone whereas I am driving.’ It’s simply manner too harmful. And it is simply not definitely worth the lack of your life or your kid’s life or the opposite folks on the highway.

“Use instruments just like the don’t disturb mode and the protected drive mode which are available. Decide to them, use them, maintain your eyes on the highway, drive safely, and ensure your kids and all your pals are doing the identical. That is the straightforward first step. If everyone might simply try this, we would be in a greater place.

“After which in a broader sense, for anybody who’s keen to assist us with the reason for Hands-Free Michigan, be very vocal in your assist for getting legal guidelines in place that may assist make our roads safer. Communicate to your elected officers. Be vocal on this as a result of it does have an effect. We’re seeing overwhelming assist for these hands-free legal guidelines. There’s simply no purpose why we should not be capable to push them over the sting and get these items applied this 12 months.”

Please discover extra once more at mkiefer.org or Google the Kiefer Basis.

MSU Today airs each Sunday morning at 9:00 on 105.1 FM, AM 870, and nevertheless you stream at residence. Observe and subscribe at Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your podcasts.





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