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NewsRegion/State

‘No Empty Chair’ safe-driving campaign hits the road

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks at the Juror

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks at the Juror Welcome Lunch - 2016 Tribeca Film Festival on April 14, 2016 in New York City. Photo Credit: Getty Images

A weeklong safe-driving initiative aimed at teenagers during their prom and graduation season gets under way Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office said.

The “No Empty Chair” teen driving safety education and enforcement campaign launches Monday with law enforcement statewide focusing on drivers who speed in school zones.

Each day this week law enforcement will target specific infractions, while also enforcing all other vehicle and traffic laws, according to a news release from Cuomo’s office.

The target days are as follows:

** Monday: Speeding in school zones.

** Tuesday: Seat belts and child restraints.

** Wednesday: Cellphone use and texting.

** Thursday: Operation Safe Stop, which promotes school bus safety.

** Friday: Underage drinking and impaired driving.

The idea is to raise awareness of highway dangers during prom and graduation season by combining the efforts of state and local law enforcement with those of school administrators, local traffic safety partners, and other community stakeholders, officials said.

Raising awareness means saving lives and helps to ensure there are no empty chairs at prom and graduation this season, officials said.

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee started the initiative on Friday, at West Genesee High School in Camillus with several speakers and a mother who lost her teenage son in a crash.

“Nearly every year, communities across New York state experience the tragic deaths of high school students in traffic crashes,” Department of Motor Vehicles executive deputy commissioner Terri Egan said in a statement. “We want to eliminate crashes, especially during prom and graduation season, and make sure every teen is in their seat on graduation day.”

Egan said a part of the initiative’s goal is to keep police officers from making “that dreaded knock on the door to parents waiting for their teens to return home.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.

The Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research said between 2012 and 2014 11 percent to 13 percent of all motor-vehicle fatalities in New York occurred in crashes involving drivers ages 16 to 20.

Drivers ages 16 and 17 involved in fatal and personal injury crashes in New York were more likely to be driving with passengers than drivers in all other fatal and personal injury crashes — 43 percent versus 29 percent in 2014.

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