City Council bans distracted driving in Columbia, major Vision Zero goal achieved |

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Texting and driving will no longer be an option in Columbia.

The City Council unanimously amended the city code Monday night to ban distracted driving, which is defined in the ordinance as anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the act of driving, including the use of cell phones.

Columbia Police Department Deputy Chief John Gordon said officers would not pull over drivers just because they are distracted. If a driver is pulled over for a traffic violation and a distraction like looking at a cell phone is what caused the violation, this would be additional proof that the driver was not practicing “careful and prudent driving.”

City Counselor Nancy Thompson said the ban shifts the burden to the driver to prove that he or she was not distracted and was being a “careful and prudent” driver.

The ban is part of the city’s Vision Zero Action Plan, which is intended to end all traffic fatalities by 2030.

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: