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The Whole Village Tackles Distracted Driving

VIJAY B. DIXIT, CHAIRMAN
SHREYA R. DIXIT MEMORIAL FOUNDATION
In the spirit of Super Bowl, I have used a football term in the title. All across our state and in the nation, the epidemic of distracted driving continues to spread with new strains of distractions. Just like the game of football, we must be capable of successfully
tackling and reversing the advance of competing distracted driving behaviors.
While agreeing with the use of ‘tackle’, readers might question the significance of this Village talk in the title?
The rest of this column will explain that.

I have always emphasized the need for a three-pronged approach to combat distracted driving. It entails unifying the forces of education, technology, and legislation. Since its inception

10 years ago, the Shreya R. Dixit Memorial Foundation has focused on incentivized educational and technology tools to help change the driving culture among young drivers. These
tools are based on the power and role peer-to-peer influence plays in modifying behaviors. The positive impact of these initiatives encouraged me to try the third area of intervention, namely
legislation.
I quickly realized that this third category is rather tricky. I was able to create youth-focused educational and technology tools and deploy them with ease. However, legislating is altogether
a different class by itself. It is time-consuming and quite complex with multiple forces trying to influence the legislation. In order to succeed in that space, we must satisfy different stakeholders
with opposing expectations. That requires a mutual appreciation for differing perspectives and opinions of all stakeholders. We cannot operate in a silo and create a solution because that is
bound to fail. We will achieve success only through a forum where differing perspectives are easily discussed and appreciated. That looked like a tall order, but I was not going give up.
I was struggling. One day, while looking for an answer, I had an epiphany.
In the past few years, I have watched Cargill Corporation, and its pioneering work to institutionalize distraction-free driving into the company culture. With the no-cellphone-use policy while driving on company business, Cargill has set an example for other businesses to follow.
After Shreya Foundation’s successful 10th Anniversary Raksha Distraction-free Event in which Cargill participated, I approached them for help in organizing a Roundtable on Distracted Driving in the new year. The Roundtable would bring together leaders from Business, Insurance, Law Enforcement, Legislature and Safety Advocacy to discuss how distracted driving impacts their individual businesses and operations. I would want to know if and how they are managing the challenges thrown at them by this problem. The Roundtable would also be a learning experience for all these leaders, offering them a unique opportunity to appreciate issues and challenges from different angles, both from the state as well as national perspectives. Though unintentionally, I am sure such insights and knowledge would otherwise be overlooked.
Cargill found my proposition to be of value and agreed to collaborate with Shreya Foundation for the First Roundtable on Distracted Driving at Cargill Head Quarters on February 2, 2018. I
hope to turn this into a yearly activity.
Because of space constraints, the Roundtable will not be a public event. However, the complete Roundtable Session along with other detailed material discussed will be available at www.shreyadixit.org. the week starting February 5, 2018 and Twitter @smartdriverMN and @shreyamemorial.
The esteemed gathering of leaders and organizations at the Roundtable both as panelists and audience personifies my concept of the big village where stakeholders would interact to tackle
the epidemic of Distracted Driving, justifying the title.
I would love to hear from the readers. You perhaps have figured out that I appreciate differing perspectives and their power to solve difficult problems.
On another note, a Hands-free bill is due to be introduced in the upcoming short session of Minnesota legislature in February. A public rally in support of the bill will be held at the State
Capitol Rotunda on February 22 at 10:00-12:00. Attendees will include advocates and victim families. Please join us. Information about how you may participate is available at
www.shreyadixit.org or by writing to justdriveday@gmail.com.
Please write to me at vijay@shreyadixit.org. I will wait to hear from you.