Published in the Eden Prairie News · July 20, 2016 10:45 am
By Vijay Dixit
On Nov. 1, 2007, while riding as a passenger on her way home from college, Shreya Dixit’s life was cut short at age 19 when the driver got distracted and crashed the car on the side where Shreya was seated.
The Dixit family believed a foundation dedicated to distraction-free driving was the perfect way to keep her in the midst of her family, friends and everyone who surrounded her. Shreya would have loved to be part of such a community initiative.
So, in January 2008, two months after the tragedy, the Dixit family established the Shreya R. Dixit Memorial Foundation to raise awareness and educate the community about distracted driving that has become now reached epidemic proportions on America’s roadways. The first event the foundation organized was the Raksha Walk & Vigil for Distraction-free Driving on Aug. 3, 2008. It has since grown to be a regular annual feature that attracts both health enthusiasts and advocates for distraction-free deriving.
The Raksha Walk’s success inspired the foundation to initiate a number of regular programs focused instilling distraction-free driving among drivers of all ages including distraction-free driving clubs at Eden Prairie and Edina high schools; scholarships for teens planning to register at a driver education school; cash rewards for innovative art, poetry and video creations; state-of-the-art learning tools leveraging Massive Open On-line Course (MOOC) technology, and a researched book written by Vijay Dixit, “One Split Second” about distracted driving and how to fix it for the long term.
The foundation’s ninth annual Raksha 5K Walk/Run for Distraction-Free Driving is set for Saturday, Aug. 6, at Purgatory Creek Park. The 5K run will begin at 8:15 a.m. followed by the vigil to remember those lost to driver distraction and a community pledge to drive distraction-free at 9 a.m. and the 5K walk at 9:45 a.m.
Vijay Dixit, chairman of the foundation’s board, provided five reasons to attend the Raksha Walk:
- It is the best way to utilize a Saturday morning learning about what driver distraction is and what it can do to individuals and families. The event gives the opportunity for everyone to get familiar with the problem of distracted driving by gaining knowledge through real-life displays, real-life stories and with information provided by expert speakers at the walk.
- Minnesota traffic fatalities reached 411 in 2015 compared to 361 in 2014, a 14 percent increase. Distracted driving was listed as a contributing factor in 74 deaths in 2015. Fatalities included 61 motorcyclists compared to 41 in 2014, in addition to 41 pedestrians compared to 17 in 2014, and 10 bicyclists compared to 5 in 2014. Additionally, 181,663 people were involved in some type of crash in 2015, that is equivalent to the population of Duluth and Plymouth combined. Teen drivers are over-represented in crashes.
- Armed with the above data you will be able to use a number of hands-on tools at the walk, some technology based and others just deliver knowledge with simple games/activities.
- You will be able to pool your hidden talents with those who share your passion in art, video or other creative activities. In the process you might create unique artifacts that will inspire others to drive distraction-free. There is nothing more rewarding than serving the community with a cause-related zeal. You will get a runner’s T-shirt, a cell phone card holder, free unlimited healthy refreshments for registering and participating. If you are a runner, you will get your official timing for the 5K Run.
- Best of all, walking and running is good for your health. Of course, you will get an added bonus of a unique learning experience in saving the lives of others, perhaps your own. That should be enough for you to get motivated and register.