Bergen County High Schools Rewarded for Seatbelt Usage in 16th Annual High School Traffic Safety Challenge

January 22, 2019

Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center recently held the 16th annual High School Traffic Safety Challenge, in which 25 schools in Bergen County participated.  From left to right:

Chanelle Banta, teacher, Immaculate Conception High School; Ed Kalpagian, agent, State Farm Insurance; Anita DaSilva, agent, State Farm Insurance; Tammy Felton, agent, State Farm Insurance; Meliam Gonzales, MSN, RN, trauma prevention coordinator and clinical educator, Hackensack University Medical Center; and Mollie Brueggemeier, student, Immaculate Conception High School.

The Trauma/Surgical Critical Care and Injury Prevention Section of the Department of Surgery at Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center recently hosted the 16th Annual “High School Traffic Safety Challenge” seatbelt program awards ceremony.  Student representatives and teachers from 25 Bergen County high schools participated in the fall challenge. This program was developed by the Drive Smart Foundation and funded with a grant from State Farm.

“I am so proud of the high schools that participate in the Traffic Safety Challenge,” said Meliam Gonzales, MSN, RN, trauma prevention coordinator and clinical educator at Hackensack University Medical Center.  “This program is designed to help teens become safer drivers and passengers by encouraging the use of seatbelts in both the front and back seats, and teaching the students not to engage in risky behavior, such as texting and/or talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving.”

The winners of the Fall High School Traffic Safety Challenge are as follows:

Most Improved Seatbelt Usage

1st Place – Lyndhurst High School with an increase of 26 percent
2nd Place – Bergenfield High School with an increase of 11 percent
3rd Place – Garfield High School with an increase of 10 percent

100 Percent Driver’s Seatbelt Usage
Fort Lee High School
Palisades Park High School            

Most Improved Back Passenger Seatbelt Usage
1st Place – North Arlington High School with an increase of 44 percent and overall increase of 10 percent
2nd Place – Rutherford High School with an increase of 26 percent
3rd Place – Bogota High School with an increase of 24 percent

Best Overall Seatbelt Use
Immaculate Conception High School, Lodi, 98 percent

2nd Best Overall Seatbelt Use
Indian Hills High School, Oakland, 97 percent
Immaculate Heart Academy, Washington Township, 97 percent

High schools maintaining an overall average of 90 percent or above seatbelt use
Northern Highlands High School, Allendale, 96 percent
Ramapo High School, Franklin Lakes, 96 percent
Park Ridge High School, 96 percent
River Dell High School, Oradell, 94 percent
Midland Park High School, 91 percent
Leonia High School, 90 percent
New Milford High School, 90 percent
Westwood High School, Washington Township, 90 percent

Winning Logo
North Arlington High School

Poster Winners
Immaculate Conception High School
Immaculate Heart Academy
Midland Park High School
North Arlington High School

Continued commitment to trauma prevention and community education
Cliffside Park High School
Cresskill High School
Dumont High School
Elmwood Park Memorial High School
Lodi High School
Saddle Brook High School

During the presentation, State Farm agents Anita DaSilva and Tammy Felton showed the students a sobering video of the consequences of driving while impaired and distracted driving.  The video, entitled, “Rearview: Looking Back,” which was produced by State Farm, featured individuals who were the victims of car accidents and those whose actions caused accidents.

“It was a normal, teenage day in all of these stories, but lives were impacted forever,” said Anita DaSilva, State Farm agent.  “Distracted driving and speed can kill. Our message is simple:  we want you to stay safe and to keep other drivers and passengers safe. Do your part and keep everyone, pedestrians included, safe.”

“When you are behind the wheel, just drive.  Unfortunately, far too many people do more than that when they are driving,” added Tammy Felton. “As an insurance agent, I have seen and heard it all.  Distracted driving is caused by emailing, shaving, eating, putting on makeup, smoking, listening to excessively loud music, taking photos and having too many people in the car. It is your responsibility to ensure the safety of others when you are exercising your privilege of operating a motor vehicle. ”

For more information about trauma prevention, please contact Meliam Gonzales, MSN, RN at 551-9962 or

About Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center
Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center, a 781-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 now part of one of the largest networks in the state comprised of 33,000 team members and more than 6,500 physicians. Hackensack University Medical Center 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. Hackensack University Medical Center 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. Becker’s Hospital Review recognized Hackensack University Medical Center as one of the 100 Great Hospitals in America 2018. 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. Hackensack University Medical Center 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. Hackensack University Medical Center 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. It remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events especially the Tackle Kids Cancer Campaign providing much needed research at the Children’s Cancer Institute housed at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital. To learn more, visit