State Watch

Ohio lawmaker on driving during video conference: ‘I wasn’t distracted’

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An Ohio state lawmaker who took part in a video meeting while driving on the same day that his state introduced a distracted driving bill argues that he “wasn’t distracted” at the time.

“I wasn’t distracted. I was paying attention to the driving and listening to it [the meeting],” state Sen. Andrew Brenner (R) told The Columbus Dispatch.

According to Brenner, he was parked for most of the time that he was on the call on Monday with the Ohio Controlling Board.

“I had two meetings that were back to back that were in separate locations. And I’ve actually been on other calls, numerous calls, while driving. Phone calls for the most part but on video calls, I’m not paying attention to the video. To me, it’s like a phone call,” he said. “I was wearing a seat belt and paying attention to the road.”

The Ohio Legislature on Monday introduced House Bill 283, which would prohibit sending or reading texts, viewing videos, writing, livestreaming or using apps while driving.

Under the bill, holding or using an electronic device while driving would also become a primary offense, allowing law enforcement to pull over drivers. Holding an electronic device while driving is currently a secondary offense in the state, and drivers over 18 can only be pulled over if they are committing another moving violation at the time, the Columbus Dispatch noted.

If the legislation, is passed it would allow for exceptions for cases in which a driver is using hands-free technology or there is an emergency situation.

Ohio has previously had difficulty passing tougher laws on distracted driving in the state legislature, according to the Dispatch. 

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