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Is it a Plea or Call to Action?

This is a Call to Action on two fronts.

In the eleven-year long quest for a distraction-free driving world, we at Shreya R. Dixit Memorial Foundation have noted some progress. Despite broad range support from all quarters, we continue to encounter new challenges. They are moving targets that are increasingly becoming difficult to track and manage. I am referring to new technologies installed in cars as well as in mobile devices that drivers and passengers carry as extensions to their bodies.

Without losing heart I am very confident that our core mission of changing the driving culture with insightful engagement tools and education materials for our young future drivers is the way to go. Of course, adult drivers will benefit from these tools as well.

Results from the deployment of a teen influence-based Distraction-free Driving Club model in Eden Prairie, Benilde St. Margaret, Hopkins and Edina High schools have been very encouraging. These clubs offer a way to engage and encourage teens to adopt a peer-to-peer influence approach built on research conducted on how a teen brain develops and, to drive positive behavior change. We now plan to expand into the Mankato and Owatonna area schools. We hope to deliver valuable data over the next few years generating a rugged approach that may be replicated across the whole state. We have aspirations to go country-wide. The distraction-free club leaders from Eden Prairie High School and Benilde St. Margaret have spent the summer interning with the foundation to develop a Guide Book for Distraction-free Driving Clubs we plan to share with other schools in the Fall semester.

Another program I have talked about before in these columns is the Shreya Foundation’s $300 Driver-ed Program Stipends. It is open for those entering any state accredited driver-ed program. Details are available on our website at www.shreyadixit.org. We need your support in promoting the above stipend program.

There is only one condition. You must apply before you enter the driver ed-program. Awardees will receive a check written out to the Driver Ed Program to defray the program costs.

Parents, please check it out. Your teen is busy and still in a growth mode. Encourage that young girl or boy to grow into a mindful and responsible driver. She/he will thank you throughout their life. It is the most easy-to-execute lifesaver initiative that you will ever take. Just add it to the list of shots that your child needs to take. This one is scheduled when adolescence sets in. And, you don’t have to go to the doctor to get it and it is FREE.

I invite parents to offer new ideas that they believe can change the driving culture. Please talk to us, have your teen get involved in our foundation. Many of our board members started with us as high school students and have continued the relationship even after leaving the area. One prominent example is Eden Prairie High School alumnus, Nick Frandsen who helps us remotely from Iowa. He joined us in his tenth grade. Eight years later Nick is still with us while in a full-time job in Iowa.

Dear parents, I cannot stress it enough that it is a shared responsibility and no single individual can do it alone. Distracted driving impacts us all. We share the roads and highways with others, why can’t we also share the responsibility of driving distraction-free, and by encouraging others to follow your example.

Do you know 358 died on our roads last year? As I write this column, 245 traffic fatalities have occurred thus far in 2018. I know we can take that number down. Our goal is zero fatalities. May we count on your support?

In 2007, my daughter Shreya was killed by a distracted driver. I represent parents and families who lost their loved ones to distracted driving. As a concerned citizen, allow me to direct your attention to a petition to our legislators to enact a hands-free law in Minnesota. Please help make Minnesota the 17th state with a Hands-free law. It will save lives.

You may sign the petition using any of the following methods:

  1. https://www.change.org/p/victim-families-want-you-to-make-minnesota-hands-free
  2. https://www.facebook.com/Make-Minnesota-Hands-Free
    Share it on your Facebook page
  3. Here is the link to the Twitter link for Make Minnesota Hands Free:
    https://twitter.com/handsfreemn

Let us move the petition upward, fast and in large numbers.

Stay tuned for future columns for more information.

Please call me any time at 612-759-3384 or e-mail at vijay@shreyadixit.org

Vijay Dixit