New Jersey DOT and GEICO announce "Safe Phone Zones" at state rest areas as a kickoff to the summer driving season

TRENTON, N.J., June 12, 2017 – The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) today, in a public-private partnership with GEICO, 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.

"We have an obligation to raise awareness about distracted driving as a real safety hazard on our roads," NJDOT 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. 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.

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 12 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, please visit: www.safephonezone.com. To join the conversation on social media use #GEICOSafePhoneZoneNJ.

GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Company) is a member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies and is the second-largest private passenger auto insurance company in the United States. GEICO, which was founded in 1936, provides millions of auto insurance quotes to U.S. drivers annually. The company is pleased to serve more than 15 million private passenger customers, insuring more than 24 million vehicles (auto & cycle).

Using GEICO's online service center, policyholders can purchase policies, make policy changes, report claims and print insurance ID cards. Policyholders can also connect to GEICO through the GEICO App, reach a representative over the phone or visit a GEICO local agent.

GEICO also provides insurance quotes on motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), boats, travel trailers and motorhomes (RVs). Coverage for life, homes and apartments is written by non-affiliated insurance companies and is secured through the GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc. Commercial auto insurance and personal umbrella protection are also available.

For more information, go to www.geico.com.