A group of talking heads (L) and a man wearing a seatbelt in a fake living room (R).

The Ohio Channel

Politician uses Zoom background to hide that he’s driving—same day distracted driving bill introduced

The video meeting took place on the same day that a distracted driving bill was introduced.

 

Mikael Thalen

Tech

Published May 6, 2021   Updated May 6, 2021, 11:26 am CDT

An Ohio lawmaker is in hot water after participating in a Zoom meeting this week while behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Although Republican Senator Andrew Brenner at first glance appeared to be in an office during the Monday video conferencing call—thanks to his digital background—the lawmaker’s seatbelt, glitchy screen, and darting eyes quickly gave him away.

As noted by the Columbus Dispatch, Brenner’s decision to attending the meeting while driving couldn’t have come at a worse time. On that same Monday, Brenner’s fellow politicians introduced legislation aimed at criminalizing distracted driving.

The bill calls specifically for a ban on “writing, sending or reading texts, viewing videos or taking photos, live streaming and using applications” while operating a motor vehicle.

But Brenner is pushing back on the notion that he was distracted.

“I wasn’t distracted. I was paying attention to the driving and listening to it,” Brenner told the Dispatch. “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,” Brenner continued. “To me, it’s like a phone call.”

Despite the politician’s claims, footage of the meeting shows Brenner fiddling with his phone throughout. The lawmaker turned off the camera multiple times in what looked to be an attempt to fix his glitching background.

Interestingly enough, none of Brenner’s fellow lawmakers made any references to the spectacle during the meeting.

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*First Published: May 6, 2021, 10:55 am CDT