The Safe Phone Zones are part of the Department's Sponsor Acknowledgement Program, which seeks companies to fund various benefits for drivers – such as free Wi-Fi at Safety Rest Areas and TICs – in exchange for receiving public recognition through highway signage.
"We are pleased to partner with our first sponsor (GEICO) to create these Safe Phone Zones so people will pull off the road to use their phone rather than using them as they drive," said Mark Marek, TxDOT's director of Engineering and Safety Operations. "With more than 100,000 crashes in Texas each year involving distracted driving, we hope to curb this deadly habit by encouraging drivers to pull over at TxDOT Safety Rest Areas and Travel Information Centers to use apps, check email and surf the Web in a safe location."
Sponsorship funds pay for free Wi-Fi service for travelers at high-traffic Safety Rest Areas and TICs, while the highway signs encourage safer driving habits by reminding motorists to utilize their mobile devices only while stopped at the convenient facilities.
Free Wi-Fi service is available at 22 Safety Rest Areas with more available in the coming months.
"The number of traffic fatalities nationwide continues to move in the wrong direction, and distracted driving is no doubt a contributing factor," said Dan Beacom, regional vice president at GEICO's Richardson office. "GEICO is pleased that we can partner with the Texas Department of Transportation to support dozens of Safe Phone Zones, and we're confident these locations will help make highways in Texas safer for all drivers."
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