This Friday night is the Warwick Valley High School Prom. Students will spend this week at local nail studios, hair salons, and make-up counters; running to dry cleaners, florists, and barbers.  Photos will be snapped by joyous, tear-filled parents. Giggles between girlfriends as their dates arrive. A night to remember followed by after-parties and trips the following morning down the Parkway to the beaches of New Jersey.

It is such a wonderful time of the year to be young. So many events. So much excitement. So many high school seniors and juniors on the road with their brand new driver’s licenses. But statistically, the season of Spring, is the scariest time of the year for young adults to get behind the wheel. According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, with June being the month with the most fatalities. Couple, probationary and newly licensed drivers without extended behind the wheel experience; with spring fever, pumped up expectations and a carload full of friends and the result can be devastating

On Friday, April 15th, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced “No Empty Chair”, an education campaign designed to alert teenagers to the dangers associated with driving. The idea is based on the graphic concept of a vacant spot at the table during the high school prom, or an unoccupied chair among a group of high school graduates. It sends message to teens that, “Please be safe because, we want you with us.”


“Raising awareness about traffic safety can prevent senseless tragedies and save lives,” said Governor Cuomo. “By spreading the word about the Empty Chair Campaign, we can stop crashes before they occur, and ensure a bright future for all of New York’s students.”

Just two weeks ago, a High School Senior at a neighboring town died as result of his car leaving the road and ending up in a drainage ditch. Police suspect his car was traveling at a high rate of speed and he swerved to avoid something that was in the road. Almost every community experiences this heart-wrenching scenario every few years. A town in mourning, a devastated student body, community members asking “why?”

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico stated when discussing “No Empty Chair”, “Our goal with this initiative is to keep teens safe so they can enjoy what is ahead of them – prom, graduation, and then moving on to the next step of their lives. Please buckle up, slow down, and put away your cell phones while driving. These few actions will make the highways safer for all and help prevent tragedy this prom season.”

For more information, and thoughts on how to talk to your teenagers about this issue, simply click on the links below.

Let’s change the statistics, so that every member of the student body stands on the podium at the Graduation Ceremony, waving their diploma, smiling at their parents and tossing their caps into the air!