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Va. Rest Stops Now Geico ‘Safe Phone Zones’

Did you travel Virginia’s interstate highways this weekend and notice a green gecko staring back at you? The Geico insurance company, known for its gecko advertising pitchman, has sponsored the state’s 43 rest areas. Signs with the reptile’s face have been placed along the roadside near the stops guiding them to rest stops, noting them as safe places to use your cell phones.

The sponsorship will help defray some of the operating costs associated with the rest stops, and it is the first time state rest stops in Virginia have been sponsored. It also comes after the 2010 reopening of many of the rest stops which had been closed during the previous year to save $9 million.

“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 Virginia Gov. Robert F. 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.”

McDonnell announced in March 2011 that he wanted to secure sponsors for the rest stops.

“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,” a press release stated.

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