Safe use of portable electronic devices

Policies on safe use of portable electronic devices

a few portable electronic devices

Wisconsin Department of Administration

Part of the latest policy (June 2010) on use of wireless devices from the Wisconsin Department of Administration says the following regarding use of wireless handheld devices while operating motor vehicles or potentially hazardous equipment:


Safe use of Wireless Services is of the utmost importance, so employees are responsible for using that service in a safe, prudent and legal manner. When driving a vehicle or operating potentially hazardous equipment, an employee's attention should be fully directed to that activity. As a general rule, Wireless Services should be turned off in either situation, allowing voice calls to go into voice mail and email/text messages to stay in queue during that time.

Performing any task that requires use of a keyboard or touch screen, including but not limited to accessing applications such as email, calendar, contacts, tasks, text messaging, the internet, etc., is expressly prohibited during those situations. If it becomes unavoidable to use the voice portion of Wireless Services in those situations, precautionary measures should be taken, including:

    • Use hands-free devices. Make sure they are positioned where you can easily reach them with your seatbelt on and that all accessories are properly attached before you start driving.
    • Let someone else drive the vehicle or operate the equipment if you are expecting an important call.
    • Let the caller know you are driving a vehicle/operating equipment and indicate that you'll return the call as soon as it's safe to do so.
    • Stop the vehicle/equipment in a safe and legal location if the call is distracting or reading/writing is required during the call.

Note: Drivers are expected to know and observe all applicable state and local laws relating to the operation of motor vehicles while using a wireless device.



Policies at UW System campuses


Reference material

  • NTSB recommendation to ban driver use of portable electronic devices. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has called for a nationwide ban on driver use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) while operating a motor vehicle. The safety recommendation was issued December 13, 2011, and specifically calls for the 50 states and the District of Columbia to ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers.
  • Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do. A report by the Governors Highway Safety Association that summarizes research done on different aspects of distracted driving, including cell phone use and texting.
  • Research bibliography. This list of resources was compiled by the National Transportation Library, USDOT and is meant to be a brief introduction to the current state of research on the topic of distracted driving, as well as highlighting some resources from the last 10 years. 



This publication was prepared for environmental, health and safety staff at University of Wisconsin System campuses, to assist in finding resources and information for regulatory compliance. It is not intended to render legal advice.
(Read full legal disclaimer.)