New Columbia city ordinance means distracted driving violation could yield fine, jail time | Columbia Tribune

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Anyone ticketed through the city of Columbia’s new distracted driving law could face a fine of up to $500 up to three months in jail.

This week the Columbia City Council amended city law to make any form of distracted driving a violation of the city’s “careful and prudent” driving ordinance, which requires all drivers to operate their vehicles safely.

Assistant to the City Manager Heather Cole provided the Tribune with information about how much money a violation of that ordinance can cost drivers.

“A ticket for Careless and Imprudent driving (C&I) is not a set amount that you can just mail in like ... other fines,” Cole wrote in an email. “A person” will “attend a court date and the judge issues a sentence at that time.”

The council’s amendment to city law defines distracted driving as including “any conduct that causes” a driver’s “vision or attention to be obscured, diminished or directed elsewhere than the path of travel or attention of the vehicle.” Examples of distracted driving mentioned in the law include using a mirror to groom oneself; reading anything located in the vehicle other than vehicle gauges; writing or drawing; putting information into a GPS or mapping device; and turning one’s head “substantially away from the path of travel.”

MoBikeFed comment: The law against distracted driving was one of the major goals of Columbia's Vision Zero plan--and was also strongly supported by the Columbia police department, who wanted more tools to address the serious injuries and fatalities that result from distracted driving.

Congratulations to PedNet and all the others in Columbia who have been working to implement Missouri's first Vision Zero policy on this important milestone.

This ordinance is a good model for Missouri cities across the state that want to address distracted driving.

More about Vision Zero in Missouri:

http://mobikefed.org/VisionZero

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