PHOENIX - Travelers who stop to take a break at one of Arizona's 14 highway rest area locations will now notice new signs designating the rest areas as "Safe Phone Zones." It's part of a nationwide effort to encourage drivers to pull into a safe location to use their phones for calling, texting and accessing mobile apps.
On Tuesday, the Arizona Department of Transportation unveiled the new Safe Phone Zone signs as part of a partnership with GEICO. The signs feature the GEICO Gecko image and can be seen along the highways leading to the rest areas and within the rest areas themselves.
This sponsorship program is part of ADOT's rest area public-private partnership, which began last October and is the department's first fully implemented public-private partnership. Under this five-year agreement, Infrastructure Corporation of America, a private company, manages the daily maintenance and operations of the rest areas, and has implemented a sponsorship and advertising program to generate revenue for reinvestment in the rest areas. The GEICO sponsorship is the first one to move forward. ADOT still owns all 14 rest areas.
"ADOT's top priority is safety and we are committed to educating the public about the dangers of distracted driving," said ADOT Director John Halikowski. "These Safe Phone Zones provide travelers with the opportunity to pull into a rest area where they can use their phones safely and responsibly. We are able to move this project forward because of the legislation enacted to generate public-private partnerships in Arizona - partnerships that have proven to be an innovative approach to funding transportation projects with non-traditional funding sources."
Tuesday, Halikowski was joined by representatives from the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety, GEICO and Infrastructure Corporation of America to unveil the new Safe Phone Zone signs at ADOT's offices in Phoenix. The signs have already been installed in the rest areas and along the highways throughout Arizona.
"Distracted driving is a major concern for motorists in Arizona and across the country. Each year, there is a growing number of injuries and fatal accidents directly related to this issue," said Martha Furnas, GEICO regional vice president. "GEICO is proud to partner with the Arizona Department of Transportation to create Safe Phone Zones throughout the state, where motorists can answer texts and make phone calls, all in a safe and convenient environment."
The Safe Phone Zone signs will be installed and maintained by Infrastructure Corporation of America, as part of the public-private partnership with ADOT. The company plans to generate other sponsorships to add more amenities within the rest areas to provide a better experience for travelers.
"Every state is facing a tremendous challenge to do more with less in order to keep their infrastructure preserved and maintained," said Butch Eley, CEO of Infrastructure Corporation of America. "ICA is proud to be Arizona's partner in an innovative project that will ensure rest areas are well-maintained, that they generate new revenues to support high-quality maintenance, and through GEICO's participation and expansion of the Safe Phone Zones, will make the highways safer. We are thrilled the Arizona Department of Transportation is taking a nationally leading role in advancing this innovative, public-private partnership model for the people of Arizona."
ADOT is one of several state departments of transportation to implement public-private partnerships to move public transportation projects forward with private investment. For more information about ADOT's public-private partnership program, go to azdot.gov/P3.