Statewide Efforts to Improve Younger Driver Safety


Since 2003, New York State has seen an 80 percent reduction in fatal motor vehicle crashes where a young driver was involved, based on 2017 data. Personal injury crashes involving young drivers have decreased by 61 percent due to effort by the New York State traffic safety community. 

Graduated Driver Licensing

The Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program is designed to provide time for young people to gain critical experience in various traffic scenarios in a safe and controlled manner. In addition to the learner permit restrictions that apply to everyone, the Graduated License Law places restrictions on drivers under 18 years of age who have a junior learner permit or junior driver license. The restrictions depend on whether you have a junior learner permit or a junior driver license, and where and when you will be driving in New York State.

No Empty Chair Campaign

The “No Empty Chair” 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.

The 2023 statewide campaign is from Monday, April 24 to Friday, April 28. 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 increase patrols near local high schools throughout the state, and officers are 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 target specific infractions statewide during the week, as well as other vehicle and traffic law violations.

The target dates for 2023 are as follows:

  • Monday, April 24, 2023 – Speeding in School Zones
  • Tuesday, April 25, 2023 – Seat Belt and Child Restraints
  • Wednesday, April 26, 2023 – Cell Phone Use and Texting
  • Thursday, April 27, 2023 – Operation Safe Stop
  • Friday, April 28, 2023 - Underage Drinking and Impaired Driving

Survivor Advocate Speakers Bureau

Through a grant, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee may provide New York State schools a presenter who will share their personal experience with a crash. 

The speakers include:  

Jacy Good - Speaking about her parent's deaths in a distracted driving crash

Marianne Angelillo - Speaking about her son's death in a high-speed crash

Karen Torres - Speaking about her father's death when he was struck and killed by a distracted driver while working along the highway

Hon. Shannon Filbert - Speaking about the importance of seat belt use and safe teen driving. The ripple effect on her life as an unbelted 18 year-old teen passenger involved in a serious injury crash.

Request A Speaker For Your School

Coaches Care Program

The Coaches Care program was begun after a report by the Governor's Highway Safety Association titled “Under Their Influence: The New Teen Safe Driving Champions.” In the report, teens were surveyed and 68 percent identified coaches as safe driving influences in their lives. “Coaches Care” uses role models with whom students regularly interact to help them learn good driving habits. GTSC provides coaches with sample talking points to help them impart valuable lessons to their students. The campaign also includes a series of school sports posters featuring teens and traffic safety messages.

Coaches are encouraged to teach their players about the following safe driving behaviors:

  • Put It Down. One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.
  • Stop Speeding Before It Stops You.
  • Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time. Front Seat and Back. Lead by example.
  • Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
  • No More Than One Passenger at Any Time.