Press Release - 04-25-2019

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Thursday, April 25, 2019 

Tim O’Brien             
[email protected] 

Darren Boysen
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 Statewide Initiative Focuses on Safe Teen Driving During Prom and Graduation Season

Enforcement Initiative to Run from April 29 to May 3

B-Roll and Images from the Event


 The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) today kicked off the 2019 “No Empty Chair” campaign with an event at the Chenango Valley High School in Binghamton, New York. The teen driving safety education and enforcement campaign raises awareness of highway dangers in the hope there will be no empty chairs during prom and graduation season.

 “As prom and graduation season begins, I urge all young motorists to remember to practice safe driving. Remember that a crash can cause tragedy for you, your passengers, and all those sharing the road,” said Acting GTSC Chair and Acting DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder. “Safe teen driving is a top priority in New York, and that is why we focus on education and enforcement. I want all our young drivers and their passengers to make it to prom and graduation.”

 The statewide campaign runs from Monday, April 29, 2019 to Friday, May 3, 2019. To help educate teens about safe driving, state and local law enforcement agencies that have School Resource Officers (SROs) or a presence at high schools are encouraged to conduct outreach during this campaign and throughout the prom and graduation season. 

 In addition to educating students about safe 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 provide time for young drivers to gain critical experience in various traffic scenarios in a safe and controlled manner.

The enforcement component of the campaign will focus on specific infractions statewide during the week as follows:

  • Monday, April 29, 2019 – Speeding in School Zones
  • Tuesday, April 30, 2019 – Seat Belt and Child Restraints
  • Wednesday, May 1, 2019 – Cell Phone Use and Texting
  • Thursday, May 2, 2019 – Operation Safe Stop
  • Friday, May 3, 2019 -  Underage Drinking and Impaired Driving

 Acting New York State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett said, “We want to keep teens safe, especially during this time of year. We want our young people to enjoy their high school days, but also make smart choices to graduate and begin the next stage of their lives. We urge everyone to wear their seat belt, slow down, and put away that device while behind the wheel. Together, we can keep our roadways safe and avoid a tragedy.”

 Chenango Valley Central School District Superintendent Dr. David Gill said, “Chenango Valley Central School District is grateful for the opportunity to help kick off this annual awareness campaign to shine a light on the importance of teen driving safety. With the approaching prom and graduation season, this should be a time for students to celebrate their accomplishments and all that lies ahead. We believe this is a valuable campaign to help keep students safe and informed, so that they may enjoy successful and bright futures.”

 Malverne Police Department Chief & President of the NYS Association of Chiefs of Police John Aresta said, “There’s nothing more painful for those of us serving in law enforcement than having to notify family members or loved ones of a needless and tragic motor vehicle crash that has taken a life of a child or family member. Dedicated traffic safety efforts that combine education and enforcement are pillars for success and enhance existing programs in making roadways in New York safer for everyone. For these reasons we stand together in our support of the collaborative week-long “No Empty Chair” teen driving safety campaign.”

 Broome County Sheriff David Harder said, “The Sheriffs of New York State want all teen drivers to enjoy their high school years and see their friends on graduation day.  Let’s make that happen by driving safely.” 

 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. The University at Albany’s Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR) provides the following facts for young drivers ages 16 to 18:

  • 6 percent of all motor vehicle crashes between 2015 and 2017 involved drivers ages 16 to 18.
  • In 2017 over half (51 percent) of the passengers killed or injured in vehicles with drivers ages 16 to 18 were also ages 16 to 18.
  • In 2017, failure to yield right of way, following too closely, and driver inattention/distraction, were the most frequently reported contributing factors for drives ages 16 to 18 involved in fatal and personal injury crashes.

 As part of the campaign, No Empty Chair posters will be displayed in high-visibility areas in schools. School administrators should contact State Police Sergeant Todd Engwer, Law Enforcement Liaison, at the GTSC to request the posters free of charge by emailing him at [email protected] or [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.

 To learn more about the NYS DMV, visit, or follow the DMV conversation online at Facebook and Twitter.