State promotes safe teen driving during “No Empty Chair” campaign

Local News

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)  are kicking off the 2019 “No Empty Chair” campaign. 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

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 or

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