Washington state Sen. Rebecca Saldana has voted in support of penalties for distracted driving. She's also vice chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, which makes it especially surprising that she opted to break a distracted-driving law during a virtual hearing of that committee on Tuesday. The Democrat representing parts of Seattle and Renton was driving as she spoke on green energy, using earphones and occasionally glancing at her phone screen. Though a Zoom background obliterated her vehicle, Saldana admitted she was behind the wheel. State law forbids "watching video on a personal electronic device," as well as earphones that block outside noises, per the Seattle Times. State Patrol Sgt. Darren Wright tells KIRO that "you've got to be able to hear the things around [you]," including emergency vehicles.
Saldana later admitted she was "not in compliance with the law" and apologized. "I made the wrong choice in not disabling the automatic video function on my phone while driving," she said, per KING 5, noting she was "a working mom" who was "trying to make my work schedule fit with my duties as a parent." "I have supported legislation about penalties for distracted driving, and like all drivers in Washington state, I must be subject and accountable to that law and all traffic laws," she added. "Accordingly, if I receive a citation for this driving infraction, I will pay the fine." Wright, however, said a fine wouldn't be forthcoming, as an officer "has to actually physically see the violation occur," per KIRO. Still, he stressed that making Zoom calls while driving is "not a safe idea." (A California doctor made a virtual court appearance while apparently performing surgery.)