Local resident’s death serves as a reminder to avoid distracted driving

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On Feb. 27, Rob Bursik was waiting patiently at a red light when a semi truck rammed into him, causing the car to completely morph into a ball. The driver of the semi was on his phone, for what was recorded as more than 8 seconds, and hit Bursik’s car at 63 miles per hour.

“My Uncle Rob was always the life of our family. He was designated QB at every family event and made sure that our family made time for each other, especially as us kids all got much older and schedules got much busier,” niece and student teacher at Oakland Middle School, Rachel Bursik said.

A car accident occurs when a moving vehicle collides with another vehicle, object, pedestrian, or animal. Sometimes fatalities occur, ripping innocent people out of the grasp of their loved ones. Rob Bursik was just that; he was very loved and respected by his family.

Bursik had grown up with her uncle always telling stories, making everyone feel important, and spending time with his family, even when it was hard for everyone to get together. Bursik believes that more can be done about these kinds of tragedies and she wants to be a part of the solution. Bursik attended Stillwater Area High School. While she attended, there was a club called Students Against Drunk Driving or SADD.

“At the time they only focused on drunk driving, but they did events in the school to raise awareness and educate students on the dangerous consequences that drunk driving has,” Bursik said.

Hoping to bring back a club to help grow awareness for not only drunk driving, but distracted driving as well, Bursik has been giving presentations in some of the classes around her. While Student-teaching at Oakland Middle School, Bursik has been given opportunity to reach out to many young students and other teachers alike, to see what she can do to prevent accident from occurring in the future.

There are some schools that do a whole educational session or presentation on drunk driving and texting and driving in which they bring in a company that acts out or shows what can happen in one of these accidents.”

— Rachel Bursik

“There are some schools that do a whole educational session or presentation on drunk driving and texting and driving in which they bring in a company that acts out or shows what can happen in one of these accidents,” Bursik said. “I think they even use students in the portrays so that students can walk through or watch a video and see their peers and their friends in it.”

Not only has Bursik used her voice in the classroom, but she has also been doing research of her own to see how many accidents are due to distractions from phones and other electronic devices.

“Each year in Minnesota, distracted or inattentive driving is a factor in one in four crashes, resulting in at least 70 deaths and 350 serious injuries. OTS estimates these numbers are vastly underreported due to law enforcement’s challenge in determining distraction as a crash factor,” the website, Office of Traffic Safety stated.

Bursik believes that if she is standing in front of young children telling her story about the accident, that will be only the beginning of the change she hopes to see. If she starts from the bottom and works her way up, she will have minors telling their superiors of the casualties that distracted driving can cause.

Before texting and driving, before drinking and driving, before making any life threatening decisions while behind the wheel, think about how it will harm others.

“These are your sisters and brothers if you’re a high school student. These are your kids if you’re a parent,” Bursik said.

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