Female driving car and using mobile phone

The Richmond City Council on Monday unanimously passed a measure banning the use of hand-held devices while driving within the city limits.

Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration proposed the ban in October, citing a desire to reduce traffic fatalities and promote safer streets. Distracted drivers have killed or hurt 218 people in the city this year, according to Richmond Police Department figures provided in a city news release.

“Prohibiting the use of a cellphone while driving is necessary to change both ingrained attitudes and dangerous habits,” Stoney said in the release.

The ban will take effect in six months to allow for a public awareness campaign. After the grace period, using a hand-held device while driving will be punishable by a $125 fine on first offense. Each offense after that will result in a $250 fine.

“With this ban, Richmond sends a clear message: whether you’re texting or not, put down the phone, or there will be consequences. I hope the General Assembly will send the same message this year,” Stoney said.

A proposed statewide ban failed during the Virginia General Assembly session earlier this year. The city can enact its own ban independently, according to the news release.

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