State Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew J. Driscoll announced in September that GEICO is sponsoring a Text Stops program along state highways operated by the department that it hopes will discourage texting while driving.
Officials said it could also provide nearly $1.3 million in revenue to New York state over the next five years.
“This innovative partnership with GEICO supports New York’s broad efforts to curb distracted driving and the traffic safety hazards it creates,” Driscoll said. “This sponsorship agreement provides one more way to encourage motorists to focus on driving and pull off the road to text or use mobile devices.”
The program was started in September 2013, expanding upon efforts to reduce distracted driving by highlighting places for motorists to pull off the highway, park and use their mobile devices. Park-and-ride facilities, rest stops and parking areas along state highways and the state Thruway serve a dual function as texting zones.
Rick Hoagland, GEICO vice president of New York operations, said "We all know distracted driving has become an epidemic on our roadways. The number of injuries and fatalities is staggering. GEICO is proud to work with the state Department of Transportation to support 52 text stops where drivers will have a safe place to use their smartphones."
GEICO is paying for the fabrication and installation of new signs promoting the locations along state highways. Additionally, posters discouraging texting-and-driving will be placed at 34 text-stop locations.
New York state combats texting-while-driving on a variety of fronts, including extensive police enforcement, tough penalties and ongoing public education efforts. Highway signs reminding drivers that there is a nearby location to safely and legally use their phones or other mobile devices supports that work, officials said.
Department of Motor Vehicles Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan said, "We work year-round to get the message to drivers that it is not only extremely dangerous for you and others with whom you are sharing the road when you use your phone and text while driving, it is also against the law. I urge New Yorkers to use these text stops and remember to put your phone down when driving."
New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said the program "will help amplify the message to drivers that their attention should be on the road, and not on their smart phones. The State Police will continue to diligently seek out drivers who endanger others by texting while driving."
GEICO provides similar support to promote stopping at rest areas and welcome centers rather than driving in Virginia, Arizona and Florida. To learn more, visit www.safephonezone.com.