AUSTIN - If you feel the need to answer or make a phone call on a Texas highway, you might want to stop at one of the Texas Department of Public Safety's new Safe Phone Zones.

Today, TxDOT announced that it is adding the Safe Phone Zones to 55 Safety Rest Areas and Travel Information Centers (TICs) across the state.

The new zones, sponsored by GEICO, are part of the Department's Sponsor Acknowledgement Program which gives a company public recognition on signs in exchange for driver benefits such as Wi-Fi at rest areas.

“We are pleased to partner with our first sponsor to create these Safe Phone Zones so people will pull off the road to use their phone rather than using them as they drive,” said Mark Marek, TxDOT’s director of Engineering and Safety Operations. “With more than 100,000 crashes in Texas each year involving distracted driving, we hope to curb this deadly habit by encouraging drivers to pull over at TxDOT Safety Rest Areas and Travel Information Centers to use apps, check email and surf the Web in a safe location.”

With the sponsorship, Wi-Fi will be available for travelers at high-traffic Safety Rest Areas and TICs. Currently, 22 Safety Rest Areas and TICs have Wi-Fi available with more being added in the near future.

The highway signs, that include a sponsorship logo, will encourage safer driving habits by reminding motorists to utilize their mobile devices only when they are stopped in a safe area.

“The number of traffic fatalities nationwide continues to move in the wrong direction, and distracted driving is no doubt a contributing factor,” said Dan Beacom, regional vice president at GEICO’s Richardson office. “GEICO is pleased that we can partner with the Texas Department of Transportation to support dozens of Safe Phone Zones, and we're confident these locations will help make highways in Texas safer for all drivers.”