A new Virginia program uses private-sector funding to subsidize the cost of maintaining 43 rest areas geared toward preventing distracted driving.
After reopening Virginia's closed rest areas in 2010, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced on Aug. 30 a new plan called Safe Phone Zones. The state's 43 rest areas will provide drivers with locations where mobile devices can be used safely. The program is sponsored by Geico as part of the Virginia Department of Transportation's Sponsorship, Advertising and Vending Enhancement initiative.
A three-year contract was awarded to Pennsylvania-based CRH Catering Co. Inc. to develop and manage a new program to generate funds that will help offset the estimated $21 million annual cost of operating the rest areas. CRH is required by contract to pay the state $2 million annually from the funds raised.
“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,” McDonnell said in a press release. “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.”
About 33 million visitors use the state's rest areas each year, according to the governor's office.