Traffic Safety Challenge Awards Recognize High Schools Promoting Seatbelt Usage and Safe Driving Behaviors

December 18, 2019

Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center recently held the 17th annual High School Traffic Safety Challenge, in which 24 schools in New Jersey participated.

Students and teachers from 24 New Jersey high schools and others dedicated to safe driving gathered at Hackensack University Medical Center to celebrate the winners of the 17th Annual “Fall High School Traffic Safety Challenge” seatbelt program awards, hosted by the hospital’s Trauma/Surgical Critical Care & Injury Prevention Section of the Department of Surgery. The fall challenge was designed to help teens become safer drivers and passengers by encouraging the use of seat belts in both the front and back seats as well as avoiding risky driving behaviors, such as texting or talking on a handheld phone while driving, speeding and drinking and driving. The program was developed by the Drive Smart Foundation and is funded with a grant from State Farm insurance company.

“It’s gratifying to see our high school students becoming better drivers and passengers, which will have a significant impact on road safety in New Jersey,” said Meliam Gonzales, MSN, RN, Trauma Prevention Coordinator & Clinical Educator and Safe Kids Bergen County Coalition Coordinator in the Trauma/Surgical Critical Care & Injury Prevention Section at Hackensack University Medical Center. This year, the program featured two unannounced seatbelt checks. During the first one, 83% of students were found to be wearing seatbelts, a number which rose to 88% at the second unannounced seatbelt check. “We were able to increase our cumulative rate by 5%, which is both significant and exciting due to your hard work,” Ms. Gonzales told the audience at the awards ceremony. “Congratulations to all on a job well done!”
“Trauma is the greatest killer of people under the age of 44,” said Sanjeev Kaul, MD, FACS, chief Trauma/Surgical Critical Care & Injury Prevention Section. 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.”
The winners of the 2019 Fall High School Traffic Safety Challenge were as follows:

Most Improved Overall Seatbelt Usage
1st Place: Rutherford High School, with an overall increase of 20%
2nd Place: Lodi High School, with an overall increase of 18%

Most Improved Front Seatbelt Usage
1st Place: Cliffside Park High School, with an overall increase of 18%
2nd Place: Palisades Park High School, with an overall increase of 16%

Most Improved Back Seatbelt Usage
1st Place: Garfield High School, with an increase of 27%
2nd Place: North Arlington High School, with an increase of 20%

Best Overall Seatbelt Usage (98% Average)
Northern Highlands High School, Allendale
Ramapo High School, Franklin Lakes
Immaculate Conception High School, Lodi
Park Ridge High School
Immaculate Heart Academy, Washington Township

Schools Recognized for Achieving 90% or Above for Overall Seatbelt Usage
Emerson High School 96%
Lyndhurst High School 95%
Westwood High School 95%
River Dell High School 94%
Midland Park High School 92%

The following schools were recognized for their continued commitment to trauma prevention and community education:

  • Bergenfield High School
  • Bogota High School
  • Cresskill High School
  • Dumont High School
  • Elmwood Park High School
  • Leonia High School
  • New Milford High School
  • Saddle Brook High School

Midland Park High School, Ramapo High School, Palisades Park High School, Immaculate Heart Academy, and Westwood High School were also recognized for their entries to the poster competition.