Multi-Agency Coalition Led by New Jersey Trauma Center Director
Working to Reduce Number of Children
Struck by Cars and Trucks in Newark
NEWARK — Dr. David Livingston, director of the New Jersey Trauma Center, sees up to 70 children each year brought to his Level I Trauma Center at The University Hospital with life-threatening injuries from automotive accidents.
On average, six children a month are transported to the Trauma Center with brain injury, broken bones and internal hemorrhaging following a motor vehicle crash. The Newark area has been identified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as having one of the highest pedestrian injury rates of any urban area in the United States.
So, over the past six months, Dr. Livingston - who is also the Wesley J. Howe Professor and chief of trauma surgery at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School - has rallied an informal community coalition to tackle the problem of children being hit by vehicles. The Pedestrian Injury Prevention Partnership is comprised of participants from the New Jersey Trauma Center at The University Hospital in Newark, and representatives from the New Community Corporation, the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, the American Automobile Association, Newark Public Schools, the Newark Police Department, and the Greater Newark Conservancy. New members are being added continually as the group continues to grow.
Now, says Dr. Livingston, is the time for action. “We want targeted interventions that will provide meaningful results and decrease pediatric pedestrian injuries.”
Dr. Livingston said that his trauma team closely monitor the types of injuries sustained in vehicle accidents and has mapped “hot spots” of dangerous streets and intersections throughout the Newark area.
“All participants are interested in designing a comprehensive program that can be used to educate children and their parents to prevent this type of injury from occurring,” he said Dr. Livingston. “The benefit of this type of partnership is that we are now bringing people together who formerly had little to no interaction. Thus, the individual efforts and successes of the participants are likely to be magnified.”
The objectives of this program are: 1) to develop a multi-disciplinary community coalition of injury prevention partners, to increase awareness and knowledge about street safety among urban minority children ages 5-12; 2) to pilot and evaluate the efficacy of a pedestrian injury prevention education curriculum wit h partnering elementary schools; and 3) to examine the environmental and site-specific aspects of child pedestrian injuries in our service area by mapping vehicle accidents involving children.
The coalition has collectively identified three areas, the “three E’s,” that must be addressed to maximize pedestrian safety among children: environmental factors, enforcement of traffic safety laws, and education of both pedestrians and motorists. Some of the participating agencies, said Dr. Livingston, already have child pedestrian safety programs of their own in various stages of development. The coalition is also seeking ongoing grant funding to fulfill and expand these educational objectives.
However, the coalition is already operating on several fronts. For example, coalition members recently held a training session for elementary students at a charter school operated by the New Community Corporation in the Central Ward of Newark, near The University Hospital. The session was well received by the children, parents, teachers, and school administrators. The coalition’s leadership is committed to continual scientific evaluation of the program as it evolves to ensure the desired outcomes.
The coalition recognizes that child pedestrian safety is a national and even international problem. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that more than 25,000 American children are struck by motor vehicles each year, with more than 500 children dying as a result of their injuries. Worldwide, pediatric pedestrian injuries now surpass infectious diseases as the single largest cause of childhood death.
The University Hospital is one of the premier university medical centers in the United States and the principal teaching hospital for New Jersey Medical School. Located in the Central Ward of Newark, the hospital offers the highest quality of care across many medical specialties.
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates The University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.