GUILDERLAND, N.Y. (WTEN) – Each year, high schoolers across the state look forward to prom and graduation. That’s why the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) launched its annual “No Empty Chair” campaign on Wednesday, making sure those memories don’t turn meaningless.
“And that’s why we’re here today,” stated Owen McShane, the Deputy Commissioner of the DMV. “To make sure there are no empty seats because of tragedy on the roads.”
At Albany Medical Center, those tragedies are on full display. One doctor remembered when his neighbor was in a serious crash, saying, “the doctors said he’ll never move; he’ll never talk again. Why don’t you just make him comfortable?”
That doctor- Kurt Edwards, the Chief of Albany Med’s Division of Trauma and Critical Care- warned of a different type of chair. “So, I’m going to talk about, not an empty chair, but a different type of chair that you don’t want in your graduation,” said Edwards. “That’s a motorized, handicapped assist wheelchair.”
Posters picturing students in graduation regalia, next to an empty seat, have been hung in schools across the state. A spokesperson for New York State Police, hoping they drive the message home.
“Your choices behind the wheel have real-life consequences,” noted Major Brent M. Davison. “Not only for you as the driver, but also for your passengers, and the other people that share the roadway with you.”
The campaign runs through late April, but Natalie Deso hopes it lasts her classmates a lifetime. “Unsafe driving could end the life of a person that has dreams, and aspirations,” she stressed. “Loved ones; a whole life ahead of them. Gone in an instant. That’s hard to think about.”