Mother's message: Daughter died distracted, ban phones for inexperienced drivers

Kelsey Raffaele was killed while driving and talking on the phone in January, 2010

Friends and family of a young girl killed behind the wheel while talking to a friend hope Michigan bans the use of cellphones for beginning drivers.

A Sault Ste. Marie mom who lost her daughter is on a mission. She wants to keep inexperienced drivers safe and she thinks the key is to keep them off their phones.

She's telling her story to lawmakers tomorrow.

"I still remember it like it was yesterday, it was the hardest thing Iâ??ve ever had to deal with in my life, and Iâ??m still dealing with it," says Brittany Bawks, cousin and friend of Kelsey Raffaele.

A Cross with Kelsey Raffaele's name marks the spot in Sault Ste. Marie where a car accident claimed her life. Kelsey died on January 24th, 2010. She was just 17 years old.

"Once it happened to Kel, it was kind of a wake-up call, it does happen, and it's a huge distraction when you're driving," says her best friend Stacey Hough.

Kelsey was on the phone with a friend when she misjudged a pass and lost control and hit by an oncoming car. Stacey Hough has Kelseyâ??s pink Fox sticker framed, found in pieces near the wreck. Kelseyâ??s mom, Bonnie, wants change.

â??I decided to do what Kelsey would want me to do, if anyone knew her, she would have been the very first person out there doing what Iâ??m doing now, and that is to try to save lives," says Bonnie Raffaele.

Tuesday, Bonnie Raffaele will share Kelseyâ??s tragic story to the Energy and Technology Committee down in Lansing. Bonnie hopes lawmakers don't take it lightly. She says the number one thing she wants to see is a law passed that forbids inexperienced drivers to get behind the wheel and talk on the phone.

Since September, Bonnie has talked to students and organizations about the distraction of a phone while driving. She thinks tomorrow will have the most impact.

â??If we can all join together and do this, then we can save lives, so hopefully they will pass this bill for me and we can all do it together," says Bonnie.

Michigan Senator Howard Walker is sponsoring legislation that would ban level-two beginner drivers from being on the phone while driving.

â??There's a lot going on that I think takes focused attention, and like I said, I think this is reasonable to ask of our beginning drivers," says Sen. Walker.

â??I wish with everything I have she just didn't have her phone that day," says Bawks.

â??Ii couldn't be more grateful for everything Kelsey gave to me," says Hough.

And now gone, friends and family want to remember Kelsey by saving others' lives.

When Bonnie Raffaele testifies Tuesday in Lansing, we'll be there.

Tuesday night, we'll have more as this story unfolds.