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Washington senator apologizes for participating in virtual transportation meeting while driving

State Senator Rebecca Saldana spoke during a virtual Senate Transportation Committee meeting wearing headphones while driving Tuesday.

SEATTLE — A Washington state lawmaker has apologized for appearing to violate traffic laws. 

State Sen. Rebecca Saldana, a Democrat who represents Seattle's Central District to Renton, took part in a virtual Senate Transportation Committee meeting on Tuesday. She did so while driving her car on city streets. Saldana joined the meeting via video call while behind the wheel, occasionally glancing at her video screen.

The meeting was focused on Forward Washington, which is a multi-billion dollar, long-term transportation plan. The plan includes a focus on green energy, which committee members sought insight from Saldana. She was able to communicate during the call via her headphones. Wearing such a device is also a violation of Washington state law.

Saldana admitted to not following traffic laws and apologized for it. In a statement to KING 5 News, Saldana said: 

“As a working mom, I face the same struggles many parents in Washington are facing, including trying to make my work schedule fit with my duties as a parent. Unfortunately, I made a choice today that was not in compliance with the law and for that I apologize.

I agree we all need to become better drivers, and that includes myself. Placed in a difficult position today, I made the wrong choice in not disabling the automatic video function on my phone while driving and complying with my duties as vice chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. I sincerely regret having made this choice, and I do not condone distracted driving or the violation of our state's traffic laws for any reason.

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.  Accordingly, if I receive a citation for this driving infraction, I will pay the fine.”

It’s unclear if Saldana will face any penalties for the incident.