“Trauma is the greatest killer of people under the age of 44,” said John J. LoCurto, Jr., M.D., FACS, associate chief, Trauma/Surgical Critical Care and Injury Prevention at HackensackUMC. “Whether it is the failure to not wear a seatbelt or a pedestrian struck by a car, the years of lost life are greater than AIDS, heart disease and cancer combined. It costs us almost $900 billion dollars a year in deaths and disabilities.”
“The teens who participate in the HS Traffic Safety Challenge greatly benefit from this program, because it teaches them the importance of becoming safer drivers and passengers,” said Meliam Gonzales, RN, Trauma Prevention coordinator and clinical educator at HackensackUMC. “The teens learn why it’s imperative to wear their seatbelt and to avoid distractions, such as texting and talking on their phone while driving and not to speed or drink and drive. Overall, the students are realizing you really have to use your head in order to protect your body.”
Helping to drive home the message was the event’s featured speaker, Sgt. Bruce Miller of the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office Crash Investigation Unit.
“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 93 to 94 percent of all pedestrian-vehicle collisions are avoidable at some point by one or more people involved,” said Sgt. Miller. “Speed and distracted driving are the predominate reasons. More people are killed by cars than by all forms of violent crime combined. The slower you drive, the greater the chance you have to survive an accident and to limit the amount of damage caused by the crash.”
The winners of the Fall High School Traffic Safety Challenge are as follows:
Most Improved Back Seatbelt Usage
1st Place Westwood High School
2nd Place Lyndhurst High School
3rd Place (tie)
Cliffside Park High School
Elmwood Park High School
Most Improved Seatbelt Usage
1st Place Dumont High School
2nd Place Lodi High School
3rd Place Park Ridge High School
Best Overall Seatbelt Usage
1st Place (tie)
Immaculate Heart Academy, Washington Township
Indian Hills High School, Oakland
Honorable Mention 90 percent or above Overall Seatbelt Use:
Northern Highlands High School, Allendale
Emerson High School
Bergenfield High School
Riverdell High School
Waldwick High School
Immaculate Conception High School, Lodi
Ramapo High School, Franklin Lakes
Cresskill High School, Immaculate Conception, Leonia High School and Ramapo High School
Dr. LoCurto finished his presentation by telling the students that distracted driving kills approximately nine people a day. He offered additional sobering statics regarding drunk driving.
“Last year in the United States, more than 32,000 people died in automobile related crashes,” said Dr. LoCurto. “Every day, 28 people died because of drunk driving crashes. It is an astonishing statistic that 58% of convicted drunk drivers will continue to drive drunk without a license. And, a drunk driver will drive approximately 80 times drunk before they are arrested. I encourage you to share what you’ve learned here with your classmates, family and friends. You just might save a life.”
The following high schools also participated and were presented with plaques for their continued commitment to trauma prevention and community education: Bogota High School, Fort Lee High School, New Milford High School, Palisades Park High School and Saddle Brook High School. For more information about trauma prevention, please contact Meliam Gonzales at 551-996-2672 or Meliam.Gonzales@hackensackmeridian.org.
About Hackensack University Medical Center
HackensackUMC, a 775-bed nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. Founded in 1888 as the county’s first hospital, it is a member of Hackensack Meridian Health, one of the largest networks in the state comprised of 28,000 team members and more than 6,000 physicians. HackensackUMC was listed as the number one hospital in New Jersey in U.S. News & World Report’s 2016-17 Best Hospital rankings - maintaining its place atop the NJ rankings since the rating system was introduced. It was also named one of the top four New York Metro Area hospitals. HackensackUMC is one of only five major academic medical centers in the nation to receive Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award for five or more years in a row. The medical center is one of the top 25 green hospitals in the country according to Practice Greenhealth, and received 25 Gold Seals of Approval™ by The Joint Commission – more than any other hospital in the country. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence; receiving its fifth consecutive designation in 2014. HackensackUMC has created an entire campus of award-winning care, including: the John Theurer Cancer Center; the Heart & Vascular Hospital; and the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which houses the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital, which was designed with The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center and listed on the Green Guide’s list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. HackensackUMC is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls and is Official Medical Services Provider to The Northern Trust PGA Golf Tournament. The HackensackUMC Foundation’s Tackle Kids Cancer initiative is an official partner of Madison Square Garden, the NY Knicks, the NY Liberty, and Radio City Music Hall, and proudly partners with the Garden of Dreams Foundation. HackensackUMC remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events. To learn more, visit www.HackensackUMC.org.
Hackensack University Medical Center recently held the 14th annual Fall High School Traffic Safety Challenge, in which 23 schools in Bergen County participated.
Photo 1: Among those pictured are the first and second place winners of the most improved back seatbelt usage award.
Back row, L to R: John LoCurto, Jr., M.D., FACS, associate chief, Trauma/Surgical Critical Care & Injury Prevention at HackensackUMC; Tammy Felton, State Farm; Cindy Bergen, State Farm; Randy Lloyd, State Farm; and Anita DaSilva, State Farm.
Middle row, L to R: Emily Ringen, Lyndhurst High School; Julian Domingo, Westwood High School; Vivek Varghese, Westwood High School; Trent Furman, Westwood High School, Xavier Landers, Westwood High School; and Andrew Camporeale, Westwood High School.
Front row, L to R: Dejua Nunez, Westwood High School, Madison Murphy, Westwood High School, Meliam Gonzales, RN, Trauma Prevention coordinator and clinical educator at HackensackUMC; and Mike Attanasio, Westwood High School.