State Creates Highway “Safe Phone Zones” to Reduce Distracted Driving

DOT and GEICO team up for “ Zones” at rest areas/scenic overlooks 

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NEW JERSEY — The New Jersey Department of Transportation, in a public-private partnership with GEICO, this week announced a new, statewide sponsorship of Rest Areas and Scenic Overlooks, rebranding them as “Safe Phone Zones.”

As the summer season begins, with more drivers headed out on the roads, this sponsorship program is aimed at curbing distracted driving on New Jersey’s highways.

Richard T. Hammer

“We have an obligation to raise awareness about distracted driving as a real safety hazard on our roads,” NJ DOT Commissioner Richard T. Hammer said. “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.”

As part of a national effort to encourage drivers to pull into a safe location to use their phones for calling, texting and accessing mobile apps, New Jersey has designated 14 Rest Areas and Scenic Overlooks throughout the state as Safe Phone Zones.

Included are trucks-only rest areas on Route 80 in Roxbury and Route 287 in Harding, and others in nearby Warren, Somerset Passaic and Hunterdon counties.

New, informative signs sponsored by GEICO have been installed along the highways leading to these facilities. Additional onsite signage discourages distracted driving and informs visitors about the sponsorship. It is another reminder for motorists to use their cell phones and other communication devices in a safe location.

Attorney General Christopher Porrino

“By working together, we are making New Jersey’s roads safer.  The Safe Phone Zones are yet another tool to combat distracted driving,” said New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino.

“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.”

The Office of the Attorney General recently announced traffic fatalities in New Jersey rose from 562 in 2015 to 604 in 2016, an average of twelve deaths a week. Division of Highway Traffic Safety officials have said the increase is in part because of distracted driving, such as cell phone use behind the wheel.

The new GEICO Safe Phone Zone sponsorship is another step in New Jersey’s efforts to combat distracted driving, following the recent #77 initiative as well as the state’s 2017 distracted driving crackdown, called “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”

“Traffic fatalities in New Jersey took a startling jump last year, making the need to eliminate distracted driving more urgent,” said 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.”

GEICO provides similar support in five other states: New York, Virginia, Arizona, Illinois and Florida. To learn more click here. To join the conversation on social media use #GEICOSafePhoneZone.

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Copyright 2017 Parsippany Focus

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