Just in time for prom season, the Oneida County Stop-DWI Program and Oneida County Youth Bureau are starting the 2019 Teen Traffic Safety Week and No Empty Chair Campaign events today.
The initiatives are conducted with several county school districts. Teen Traffic Safety Week seeks to educate high school-age people on the dangers of mixing drinking, texting, other distractions and driving, along with warnings on tobacco, marijuana, addictive opiates, bullying, driving in work zones and dating and sexual violence.
The No Empty Chair Campaign focuses on impaired and distracted driving through school resource officers and sports coaches, along with increased patrols near high schools enforcing the graduated driver licensing law, which limits the number of passengers that may accompany new, learning drivers.
Organizers recommend putting cell phones out of reach while driving, such as in a glove box, back seat or trunk, or simply turning them off or using silent mode.
Teen Traffic Safety Week events include a presentation by special guest speaker Edward Devitt II on “A Brain New Day” about his recovery from severe brain trauma from a drunk-driving crash while he was a teenager. It’s scheduled for Rome Free Academy and high schools in Oriskany, Remsen, Westmoreland, Holland Patent and Notre Dame in Utica.
The No Empty Chair Campaign targets specific infractions on particular days: school-zone speeding April 29, seat belts and child restraints April 30, cell phone use and texting May 1, Operation Safe Stop at stopped school buses May 2, and underage and impaired driving May 3.
The start of the prom-season initiatives were marked by Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente and Sheriff Rob Maciol at New York Mills High School.
“The teenage years are a critical time when life or death decisions can arise in the blink of an eye,” Picente said.
“By educating our young drivers about these important highway safety issues and enforcing our traffic laws, we are doing all we can to ensure there are no empty chairs during prom and graduation season this year,” Maciol said.
Meanwhile, the Stop-DWI high school baseball tournament is Friday at Saturday at Delutis Field in Rome. Participating teams are Notre Dame, VVS, New Hartford, Camden, Waterville, New York Mills, Holland Patent, Westmoreland, Oriskany and West Canada Valley.