Press Release - 04-20-2018

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Rich Meddaugh
[email protected]


Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and Brighton High School Kick Off
2018 'No Empty Chair' Awareness and Enforcement Campaign in Rochester

Statewide initiative to raise awareness of highway safety issues among teens

Campaign Includes enforcement effort from April 23-27

B-Roll and Sound Bites from Event Available


The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) today kicked off the 2018 “No Empty Chair” statewide campaign at Brighton High School in Rochester to minimize crashes involving teen drivers. With prom and graduation season coming up, New York State and its community partners are working together to prevent tragedies on our roadways.

       B-ROLL VIDEO and SOUND BITES from the press conference are available on YouTube.

Speakers appear in the following order:

  • Chuck DeWeese / Governor's Traffic Safety Committee
  • Ms. Susan Gaiter / Victim Advocate
  • Dr. Thomas Hall – Brighton High School Principal
  • Hannah Newland / Executive Council President – Brighton High School Student


“This season is a milestone for teens as they celebrate their accomplishments and prepare for the opportunities ahead,” said GTSC Chair and DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan. “They should enjoy this time and not have their happy memories marred by a preventable tragedy. By making young drivers aware of highway safety issues and enforcing our traffic laws, we are working to ensure there are no empty chairs during prom and graduation season this year.”

The week-long, statewide campaign runs from Monday, April 23, through Friday, April 27. In addition to educating students about the dangers of impaired and distracted driving, State and local law enforcement will increase patrols near local high schools throughout the state, and officers will be vigilant in enforcing violations of the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law.

The GDL is intended to give young drivers time to develop critical skills and experience in various traffic scenarios while limiting the number of passengers to reduce distractions. The New York State Department of Health created GTSC-funded pocket guides for law enforcement agencies and others on the GDL in Upstate New YorkNew York City, and Long Island.

The enforcement component of the campaign will target specific infractions statewide during the week, as well as other vehicle and traffic law violations. The target dates are as follows:

  • Monday, April 23, 2018 – Speeding in school zones
  • Tuesday, April 24, 2018 – Seatbelts and child restraints
  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018 – Cell phone use and texting
  • Thursday, April 26, 2018 – Operation Safe Stop
  • Friday, April 27, 2018 – Underage drinking and impaired driving

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for U.S. teens. The Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research provides the following facts for New York for the three-year period 2014-2016:

  • Drivers ages 16-18 are overrepresented in crashes: 6 percent of all motor vehicle crashes involved drivers ages 16-18, even though drivers in this age group account for only 2 percent of all licensed drivers.
  • 5 percent of the fatal crashes in 2016 involved drivers ages 16-18, up from 3 percent in 2014.
  • 4 percent - 5 percent of the persons killed and 6 percent of the persons injured in motor vehicle crashes were in crashes involving drivers ages 16-18.
  • Drivers 16-18 years of age involved in fatal and personal injury crashes in 2016 were more likely than all drivers to have passengers in their vehicles (38 percent vs. 28 percent).
  • 52 percent of the passengers who were killed or injured while riding in vehicles with drivers ages 16-18 were also ages 16-18; in comparison, only 7 percent of the passengers killed or injured riding with drivers of all ages were 16-18 years old.

In addition, drivers ages 16-18 involved in police-reported fatal and personal injury crashes in 2016 were much more likely than all drivers to have driver inexperience, unsafe speed, following too closely, failure to yield right-of-way, and driver inattention/distraction reported as contributing factors.

In 2016, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the “No Empty Chair” teen driving safety education and enforcement campaign to raise awareness of highway dangers during prom and graduation season. Law enforcement agencies that have School Resource Officers (SROs) or a presence at high schools within their jurisdictions are encouraged to conduct outreach this week and throughout the prom and graduation season. As part of the campaign, No Empty Chair posters will be displayed in high-visibility areas in schools. School administrators should contact Sergeant Todd Engwer of the GTSC to request the posters free of charge by emailing him at [email protected].

Educators, coaches and school resource officers can access additional resources. Younger drivers can see Younger Driver resources at DMV.

For more information about GTSC, visit, or follow the GTSC conversation at Facebook and Twitter.