Insurer GEICO is partnering with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) to sponsor rest areas and scenic overlooks in the state and rebranding them as “Safe Phone Zones” with the intent of reducing distracted driving.
GEICO is sponsoring similar initiatives in New York, Virginia, Arizona, Illinois and Florida.
“We have an obligation to raise awareness about distracted driving as a real safety hazard on our roads,” says NJDOT Commissioner Richard T. Hammer. “Programs such as this partnership with GEICO helps get the message out and reminds every driver who gets behind the wheel they must individually share in that responsibility too.”
The state designated 14 Rest Areas and Scenic Overlooks as Safe Phone Zones and new GEICO-sponsored signs have been installed along the highways leading to these sites. NJDOT says they have added other signage at the locations aimed at discouraging distracted driving and informing visitors about the sponsorship.
“By working together, we are making New Jersey’s roads safer,” says New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. “The Safe Phone Zones are yet another tool to combat distracted driving. Traffic fatalities continue to rise and we know that distracted driving accounts for part of this increase. If you don’t have hands–free technology and you want to answer the phone, send a text message or an email, these safe zones are the places to do it.”
Porrino’s office recently announced traffic fatalities in New Jersey rose from 562 in 2015 to 604 in 2016, an average of 12 deaths a week. The state Division of Highway Traffic Safety officials reported this increase is due partly to distracted driving, such as cell phone use behind the wheel.
“Traffic fatalities in New Jersey took a startling jump last year, making the need to eliminate distracted driving more urgent,” says Tim Lamere, GEICO assistant vice president of underwriting for New Jersey and New England. “GEICO is proud to partner with the New Jersey Department of Transportation to provide these Safe Phone Zones throughout the state where drivers can safely pull off to take a break to check their texts, apps and emails.”