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COLUMBIA – Columbia’s Youth Advisory Council discussed meaningful ways to reach high school students as part of the city’s Vision Zero project, which aims to increase driver safety.

For council member Jared Loveless, a recently passed distracted driving ban is more than just an initiative to get people to pay attention, it’s about knowing bad driving habits can have a lasting impact on someone’s life.

A friend of his died at the hands of a distracted driver.

“I feel like, people should know that it affects more than just yourself. It affects other people’s lives."

He said drivers should know they aren't only putting themselves at risk.

"You’re putting the lives of everyone else’s around you and that’s just something that shouldn’t happen,” he said.

The Youth Advisory Council chair, Kristine Cho, a senior at Battle High School, said conversations about distracted driving are needed, considering people in her generation have always been connected to a telecommunication device.

“Growing up in an age that is saturated in technology, growing up in an age where our phones are essentially parts of ourselves, that they’re another language through which we communicate with our peers, talking about distracted driving is really important,” Cho said.

At the first meeting of the year Monday night, the Youth Advisory Council broke  into groups to discuss the best ways to reach members of their high school community to create awareness of Columbia’s new distracted driving ban.

Members agreed to use drunk driving googles and distracted driving simulations to demonstrate to high school students how dangerous it is to drive under the influence or text while driving.

The students plan to put up interactive booths to handout small trinkets such as pens or buttons to increase awareness surrounding distracted driving.

The Youth Advisory Council plans to roll out the events sometime before spring break or prom to remind peers about the importance of their actions and to help the Columbia community reach its goal of eliminating all traffic-related deaths and injuries.

Statistics show residents in Columbia have a greater risk of being killed on the road here in Mid-Missouri, than in New York City or Seattle. Columbia will be the first city in Missouri to adopt the Vision Zero concept.

 

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