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Vision Zero coming to three Columbia high schools: “There is a problem with distracted driving”

Columbia’s Youth Advisory Council discussed the city’s “Vision Zero Policy” at its meeting Tuesday night.

The Columbia City Council adopted the “Vision Zero Policy” in December 2016, with a goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. The action was taken after traffic deaths rose to a six-year high in 2016.

The Youth Advisory Council, which is made up of students from Rock Bridge, Hickman and Battle High Schools, was asked to come up with a way to educate their peers about the vision zero plan. They discussed a number of ideas, including flyers, speakers and simulations, and will make a final decision at their next meeting in February.

“You have such a variety of people that you can’t be sure 100 percent that everyone’s going to get the same message, but what we can be sure of is that we’re doing out best and that we’re putting out those materials,” Kristine Cho, a Rock Bridge High School student and chair of the council said.

The meeting comes as fatal crashes in both Missouri and Boone County saw a decrease in 2017. In Missouri, there were 928 fatal crashes in 2017, 947 in 2016 and 870 in 2015.

Fatal crashes in Boone County also saw a 40 percent decrease from 2016 to 2017. In 2017, there were 15 fatal crashes in Boone County, and in 2016, there were 25.

“Hopefully we’re improving and increasing people’s education and then looking at the engineering and looking at the enforcement,” Betsy Peters, Columbia City Councilwoman for Ward 6, said.

Despite the improvements, data from the Missouri State Highway Patrol says drivers under the age of 21 were involved in 33 percent of last year’s crashes.

“I think there is an issue with distracted driving,” Cho said.

The meeting comes less than a month after the Columbia City Council passed new distracted driving laws as part of the vision zero plan. Peters said that plan is just getting started.

“I think we’re just getting the momentum started to get everyone’s input and see what will make Columbia a better place to live.”

The Columbia City Council is holding a series of town hall meetings in January to educate the public about vision zero. The Youth Advisory Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 13.

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