During the holiday season, you and a whole lot of other people may be will taking to the highways to visit family and friends. Naturally with the increased traffic, comes more risk of distracted driving, and that's why the Texas Department of Transportation has created 'Safe Phone Zones' at 55 Safety Rest Areas and Travel Information Centers (TICs) across the state.

Sponsored by GEICO,  the zones are part of the Department’s Sponsor Acknowledgement Program, which seeks companies to fund various benefits for drivers – such as free Wi-Fi at Safety Rest Areas and TICs – in exchange for receiving public recognition through highway signage.

Officials say that with more than 100,000 crashes in Texas each year involving distracted driving, the hope is that people will pull over to use these zones, where they can freely use rest areas and travel information centers to use apps, check email and surf the Web in a safe location.

Sponsorship funds pay for free Wi-Fi service for travelers at high-traffic Safety Rest Areas and TICs, while the highway signs encourage safer driving habits by reminding motorists to utilize their mobile devices only while stopped at the convenient facilities. Free Wi-Fi service is available at 22 Safety Rest Areas with more available in the coming months.

TxDOT currently has 80 Safety Rest Areas and 12 Travel Information Centers (TICs) placed strategically throughout the state. These facilities are essential safety features on the highway system as they allow drivers to rest and get travel information. The TICs are staffed by professional travel counselors who welcome visitors to Texas, help with routings and provide information on points of interest, events and road conditions.

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