The City of Columbia Council unanimously passed a Policy Resolution (PR178-16) and adopted the Vision Zero policy in December of 2016.
Under the plan, Vision Zero pledged to eliminate all traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. To help with Vision Zero, RBHS students on the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) ran a distracted driving pledge, Vision Zero Program Manager Heather Cole said.
“The students among the three [Columbia Public Schools] high schools have gotten hundreds of students each year to take the pledge,” Cole said. “This is important for our mission because motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens in the United States.”
“We often hear just about something like texting and driving when it comes to distracted driving, but there are other forms we’re less conscious of that are just as dangerous.”
An RBHS subgroup of YAC set up tables during lunch to show distracted driving simulations and also encouraged students to take a pledge against distracted driving.
Cover said Vision Zero is an important project because distracted driving deaths are preventable.
“[Vision Zero] stresses dangers of distracted driving as a whole,” Cover said. “We often hear just about something like texting and driving when it comes to distracted driving, but there are other forms we’re less conscious of that are just as dangerous, and Vision Zero also stresses awareness of those.”
With the goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2030, the Vision Zero Policy brings an effort toward change in Columbia. Previous City Manager Mike Matthes held Vision Zero World Cafe meetings that were open to the public and other city government employees. Through three meetings and an online survey, the group created the three teams — engineering, education and enforcement.
The Vision Zero plan aims to educate younger drivers. Not directly a part of Vision Zero but still an advocate for safe driving, junior Olivia Guess makes sure she does not use her phone and pays full attention to driving. While Guess only has eight months driving experience, she experienced a couple close calls.While these near accidents were not because of distraction, she knows instances when drivers were more careless with distraction. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated in 2017, 3,166 people died because of distracted drivers in the United States.
“I would consider a lot of things to be distracting,” Guess said. “Being on your phone, for one, but talking with your friends can also be a distraction. Eating food while driving is just difficult all together because you don’t have two hands on the wheel.”
While Guess is aware of the importance of staying focused while driving, Cover said students who want to help the Vision Zero initiative can support the goal as well as make sure they are not driving distracted.
“[People should make sure] when they’re a passenger in the car they aren’t distracting the driver, and they’re holding their friends accountable to that, too,” Cover said. “The second thing they can do is apply to join the Youth Advisory Council at the end of this month so they can help out with the Vision Zero initiative next year.”