Fetterman Has History of Driving Infractions, Records and Former Aides Say - The World News

Fetterman Has History of Driving Infractions, Records and Former Aides Say

Senator John Fetterman, Democrat of Pennsylvania, was at fault in a car accident in Maryland on Sunday and has a record of distracted driving and infractions, according to police records and former aides.

A witness to the crash said Mr. Fetterman passed her on Eisenhower Memorial Highway in western Maryland, driving well over the posted speed limit of 70 miles per hour, according to the police report. Mr. Fetterman’s vehicle then rear-ended another, the report said.

The senator and his wife, Gisele Barreto Fetterman, as well as the other driver, a 62-year-old woman driving a Chevrolet Impala, were taken to the hospital. Both vehicles were towed from the scene.

The Maryland police records were reported earlier by USA Today. Images of what appeared to be Mr. Fetterman’s totaled SUV were obtained by WPXI.

In a video that he posted on social media on Monday, after being released from the hospital, Mr. Fetterman held up a bottle of Tylenol and a bag of frozen peas and said the crash had put a damper on plans to celebrate his 16th wedding anniversary. “Not great for your wedding anniversary, but we’re both great,” he said, making no mention of the other driver in the crash.

The accident did not come as a surprise to some of his former staff members, who said Mr. Fetterman was a notoriously distracted driver who often made video calls and read news articles on his phone while driving. They said he caused them major anxiety every time he got behind the wheel.

Mr. Fetterman has had issues with auditory processing since he had a stroke in 2022, after which he had a pacemaker and a defibrillator implanted. For a long time, he relied on FaceTime for calls with aides so he could read voice-to-text captions on the screen while they spoke to him. He would routinely do so while driving, they said.

The senator’s hearing has notably improved over the past year. He often interacts with reporters in the echoing halls of the Capitol without relying on voice-to-text transcription. But for months after his stroke, when he complained that everything sounded like the muffled voice of the teacher in the “Peanuts” cartoon whose words could never be deciphered, he relied on the tool to communicate.

Mr. Fetterman, former aides said, would also use voice-to-text tools while driving. The behavior was so unnerving to them that many eventually refused to be in a car driven by the senator.

Other concerned staff members, whom he would FaceTime while driving, would tell Mr. Fetterman that the matter at hand was not so important that it could not wait and he should call them back. They all made an effort not to text him when they knew he was driving, the former aides said.

The crash last weekend was not Mr. Fetterman’s first driving infraction.

In March, he received a speeding ticket in Pennsylvania for driving 34 miles per hour over the limit. In 2016, he was pulled over for driving 24 miles per hour over the speed limit, according to police records. The Pennsylvania police records and concerns about distracted driving were reported earlier by The Washington Post.

Mr. Fetterman may have become accustomed to high speeds after years of being driven around by a security detail when he was the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania. He would be chauffeured by state troopers who would fly down the turnpike, pushing 90 miles an hour, former aides recalled.

In a statement on Friday, Mr. Fetterman said he was “relieved and grateful” no serious injuries resulted from the accident last weekend. “I’ve been driving for almost 40 years, and I’ve gotten a small handful of tickets,” he said. “When I sped, I was held accountable. I need to do better and do it slower — and I will.”

Campbell Robertson contributed reporting from Bethesda, Md., and Luke Broadwater from Washington.

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