Safety Policies

SY37 Text Messaging and Cell Phone Use when Operating Vehicles while on University Business

Policy Status: 


Subject Matter Expert: 

Wesley Sheets, 814-863-6054,

Policy Steward: 

Chief of University Police and Public Safety



To establish a policy which addresses University employees and students using interactive wireless communications devices when operating vehicles while on University business.

According to research, being distracted delays a driver’s reaction time. Statistics show that deaths relating to distracted driving are significant. The University supports any reasonable measure to minimize distractions of all types while driving; individuals are encouraged to use good judgment at all times.  With respect to the above-described devices, the recommended practice is to pull off the roadway to a safe location and park the vehicle to send or receive messages, make or receive telephone calls, or to simply ignore incoming communications until the journey has ended.


PA Vehicle Code Title 75 section 3316.


This policy applies to all University employees (part-time or full-time faculty, staff, technical service) using the above-described devices while on University-related business, whether they are using University-provided vehicles or non-University provided vehicles.  The policy applies to employees of The Pennsylvania State University, except for operators of emergency vehicles. This also applies to other individuals, including students and volunteers, using University-provided vehicles. This policy does not apply to the Hershey Medical Center and College of Medicine.


Interactive wireless communication device - any wireless electronic communications device that provides for voice or data communication between two or more parties including, but not limited to, a mobile or cellular telephone, a text message device, a personal digital assistant or a laptop computer.  The term does not include amateur, citizens band or two-way radio communication devices, or communication devices permanently affixed to a mass transit vehicle.

Electronic Communication - includes, but is not limited to, sending and/or receiving telephone (cell phone) calls, text messages and emails.


The use of interactive wireless communication devices for electronic communication by employees of The Pennsylvania State University while on University business is prohibited while operating any vehicle. Students are prohibited from using interactive wireless communication devices for electronic communication while using University-provided vehicles. Drivers may engage in telephone conversation using hands-free methods or devices. 

This policy is superseded by any applicable local, state or federal regulation where the regulation is more stringent than this policy.


For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact University Police & Public Safety.

Most Recent Changes:

  • June 8, 2023 - Updated policy steward and subject matter expert.

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • May 23, 2022 - Updated title of Associate Vice President of University Police and Public Safety
  • August 13, 2015 - Editorial changes to the PURPOSE section, 2nd paragraph, to clarify general information regarding distracted driving.
  • December 3, 2014 - Editorial changes to the PURPOSE section, 2nd paragraph, to reflect more current data regarding distracted drivers.
  • June 19, 2014 - Editorial changes. Addition of policy steward information, in the event that there are questions or requests for changes to the policy.
  • March 2, 2012 - "Reference" section added, to reflect changes in Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.
  • April 28, 2010 - New Policy

Date Approved: 

August 13, 2015