AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - TxDOT and GEICO are teaming up to provide travelers with another outlet to keep themselves safe while on the road.
While it is a jump in technology, officials are hoping roadside wi-fi and other benefits will actually decrease the number of fatalities on Texas highways.
If you've seen drivers on the road texting, you're not alone. And though most know it's not a safe practice, it continues.
Texas Department of Transportation has now launched what they are calling "safe phone zones" to help alleviate any need to use a cell phone while traveling.
"It's important to note that we have more than 100,000 distracted driving crashes in Texas each year," says TxDOT spokesperson Veronica Beyer. "So, we hope that this sponsorship program will change driver behavior and reduce those crashes."
The GEICO-sponsored program allows drivers designated zones to pull over and use their phones. And some, are even equipped with wi-fi. Currently, there are 55 zones across the state, 22 of which have wi-fi, and more will be available in the coming months.
Beyer says this offers an incentive to drivers who pull over.
"The end goal here is to encourage drivers to pull over, get some rest and use their cell phones in safe areas so that they're not driving distracted and so we may see other benefits for drivers as well, and in the end it's going to help raise money for the state so that we can offset the costs of these driver benefits and also maintenance."
As a sponsor, GEICO takes care of all the fees associated with that safe phone zone, including maintenance. For that reason, TxDOT is hoping to attract even more sponsors to open more areas like this.
And though the step seems small, officials are optimistic the change can help.
"This is about saving lives," says Beyer. "And safety is our top priority, so we want to do whatever we can to encourage drivers to improve their behaviors while driving, that means drive with 110 percent of their focus on driving."
To see the map of other locations with wi-fi, click here.