Illinois State Police warned against video conferencing while driving after issuing over 800 distracted driving citations thus far in 2021.
Illinois faces an issue with distracted driving statewide, according to an area police officer, with 855 citations issued since Jan. 1.
“Distracted driving is absolutely an issue in Illinois," Sgt. Christopher Watson said. "We are definitely into heavily enforcing the distracted driving laws."
Though it is legal in Illinois to drive and use a hands-free device to listen, it is illegal to watch a video while driving, according to state law.
With the uptick in video conferencing amid the pandemic, Watson reminded why engaging in a virtual meeting would be a distraction while operating a vehicle.
“It’s taking your attention away from the primary act of operating a vehicle safely on the roadway," Watson said.
Following a virtual township meeting, Northfield Township committeeman TJ Brown called out trustee Shiva Mohsenzadeh for driving while on a video conference.
“I just don’t think that this is an appropriate way to attend any meeting and an appropriate way to be driving," Brown said.
Mohsenzadeh said her phone was in a "hands-free cradle" during the meeting and that she drove for a few minutes while looking for a place to pull over. She's running for township supervisor and called Brown's remarks a "cheap political ploy."
Illinois State Police encouraged residents to "make good choices" behind the wheel even when doing actions that are not illegal, such as changing the radio or picking up an item that fell. Authorities warned these acts can quickly become "more serious."