"No Empty Chair" Encourages Safe Teen Driving

‘No Empty Chair’ Education Program Encourages Teen Driving Safety
Posted on 04/25/2022
No Empty Chair student speaker Christine Everett

‘No Empty Chair’ Education Program Encourages Teen Driving Safety

End of year celebrations like prom and graduation are fast approaching and a coalition of school, state and law enforcement officials want students to stay safe on the roads.

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and NYS Department of Motor Vehicles kicked off the 2022 “No Empty Chair” education and enforcement campaign at the Lackawanna High School on April 25, 2022.

The teen driving safety education and enforcement campaign raises awareness of responsible driving in the hope there will be no empty chairs during prom and graduation season. Speaking to students were GTSC and DMV officials as well as representatives from the Lackawanna City School District, the Lackawanna Police Department and a victim advocate for teen driver safety.

Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death in teenagers and result in 100 teen fatalities every year in New York State.

Lackawanna student Christine Everett recalled the loss of her aunt in a bicycle accident and the toll that has taken on her family. Lindsay Tomidy, a victim advocate, said she lost her brother 21 years ago due to an impaired driving accident. That loss is felt everyday as time goes on and she encouraged students to look out for each other when they are celebrating so that there are “no empty chairs” at graduation.

“Stories like these and the presentation today help bring reality to the dangers you face behind the wheel,” Lackawanna Assistant Superintendent Kiel Illg said. “I encourage all of our students to listen to this message and apply it to their driving habits.”

“No Empty Chair” also connects law enforcement agencies as an ally for students to all upon. Representatives from the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police were also in attendance.

Officer Keith Kwiatkowski of the Lackawanna City Police Department has known most of the seniors since they entered school. “I want to see you at graduation and prom and all of those fun celebrations. We’re here for you in the department; your family and friends are here for you. Have fun, but be safe,” he said.         

Motor vehicle accidents are preventable. Simple tips to improve safety included following the speed limit, using a seat belt, avoiding distracted driving and texting, respecting school zones and never driving impaired by alcohol or drugs.

GTSC Chair and DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder closed the assembly with the call “No empty chair in Lackawanna!”

 Christine Everett
Officer Kiawtkowski
No Empty Chair Assembly

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