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Aug. 30, 2012

Virginia is first in nation to launch rest area sponsorship program with focus on reducing distracted driving

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From the office of Gov. Bob McDonnell

GEICO signs being installedRICHMOND - Gov. Bob McDonnell today announced Virginia's launch of the "Safe Phone Zones" program sponsored by GEICO, which includes highway signs that direct motorists to Virginia's Safety Rest Areas and Welcome Centers where they can safely use their phones for calling, texting, surfing and accessing mobile apps.

Virginia becomes the first state in the country to secure a sponsor as part of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Sponsorship, Advertising and Vending Enhancement (SAVE) initiative, a cost-saving program designed to generate additional revenues to help defray the cost of operating the Commonwealth's 43 Safety Rest Areas and Welcome Centers. In April, 2010, Gov. McDonnell reopened all of the commonwealth's closed rest area facilities that now serve an estimated 33 million visitors each year.

"My administration has moved aggressively to find innovative solutions for maintaining and operating Virginia's rest areas and welcome centers, which provide a safe place for travelers to rest and gather information about the many attractions and services Virginia has to offer," said Gov. McDonnell. "By partnering with the private sector, we are not only keeping our rest areas open, but we are making our roads safer by discouraging distracted driving."

"We continue to work with the private and public sectors to develop other innovative funding alternatives," added Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton. "We are committed to getting the maximum value for each dollar we invest in Virginia's infrastructure, and the SAVE program is part of that overall effort."

A three-year contract was awarded to CRH Catering Co., Inc. based in Connellsville, Pa., (with locations in Richmond and Norfolk) to develop and manage a new program to generate additional revenues that will help offset operating costs of the commonwealth's rest areas and welcome centers, which total approximately $21 million annually.

The contract requires CRH to pay VDOT approximately $2 million annually in revenue generated by the ongoing vending program and the new GEICO sponsorship.

VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley added, "Safety is one of our top priorities at VDOT. Our sponsorship program with GEICO supports the Safety Rest Area program while simultaneously offering motorists a friendly reminder to use our convenient facilities for a safety break."

As the official sponsor of Virginia's Safety Rest Areas and Welcome Centers, GEICO encourages motorists to pull over to use their phones safely. GEICO will promote the new Rest Area Safe Phone Zones program on highway signs, brochures and on informational signage at each Virginia facility.

"As we all know, distracted driving is a major problem," said Joe Thomas, GEICO's regional vice president. "GEICO is committed to combating distracted driving and we are proud to work with the Virginia Department of Transportation on this issue. We all want to let drivers know about the Safe Phone Zones in Virginia, where people can take a break from driving at the state's welcome centers and rest areas, and make phone calls and answer texts in a comfortable, convenient and safe environment."

More information regarding Virginia's safety rest areas and welcome centers visit

Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.

Page last modified: Nov. 6, 2017