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Preventing Injuries In New Jersey

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Did you know that death rates from motor vehicle crashes in New Jersey are 40 percent below the national average?

Did you know that drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death in New Jersey among children between the ages of 1 and 14?

Did you know that falls cause 200 deaths each year in the state?

Did you know that males are three times more likely to die from unintentional injuries as females?

Did you know that each year in New Jersey, 8,000 people suffer traumatic brain injuries—and 1,000 people die from those injuries?

These and other facts are contained in a report entitled, Preventing Injury in New Jersey; Priorities for Action, which includes wide-ranging recommendations for reducing injuries in eight key areas in descending order by number of fatalities: motor vehicle accidents; unintentional poisonings; falls; fire and burns; sports, recreation and exercise; occupational injury; and unintentional childhood injuries.

The Department of Health and Senior Services convened an advisory committee to analyze data on unintentional and preventable injuries to produce the report. The panel included experts in medicine, academia, law enforcement, and the private and nonprofit sectors, as well as representatives of state and local government.

The report recommends dozens of steps that government, the public, schools, businesses, individuals and elected officials can take to improve prevention efforts and reduce the number of injuries in New Jersey each year.

For example, to decrease accidental recreational injuries, the report recommends encouraging appropriate use of kneepads, batting helmets and safety glasses. The report also calls for reducing New Jersey’s above-average rates of pedestrian injury and fatality—especially among older adults. This is a priority for Governor Jon S. Corzine and the report notes that the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the Attorney General and the Motor Vehicle Commission are collaborating on $74 million worth of pedestrian safety interventions, crosswalk and intersection improvements and creation of safe routes to school and mass transit.

Governor Corzine urged New Jersey residents to take simple preventive steps—like buckling up and wearing helmets when riding bicycles—to protect themselves and their families from injuries at home, at work and in school.

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“We all have a stake in preventing and reducing injuries,’’ said Governor Corzine. “We have comprehensive safety laws in place, but all of us in the public and private sector and in every community have to work together to raise awareness of preventive measures that each of us can take to avoid injury.’’

Commissioner of Health and Senior Services Heather Howard said the report is “an important step in evaluating how our limited resources should be targeted to accomplish the most significant public health benefit and sustain the progress already initiated by many in reducing preventable injury.’’

The report found, each year, unintentional injury causes 3,500 deaths and 60,000 injuries that require treatment in an Emergency Room or hospitalization.

Among the report’s other key findings:

* Motor vehicle crashes result in 770 deaths each year, and nearly as many people die from drug overdoses and poisonings

* Hundreds of New Jersey teenagers sustain concussions and other serious injuries while playing sports

* Falls cause nearly 200 deaths each year among seniors

* Approximately 150 New Jerseyans die each year from fires and drownings

* Nearly 950 deaths are the result of homicide and suicide each year

Several initiatives are already underway statewide to reduce injuries. For example, the Department of Health and Senior Services is working to prevent falls among the elderly through Project Healthy Bones, a 24-week education and exercise program for older residents at risk for osteoporosis.

In New Jersey, anyone under 17 years of age who rides a bicycle or is a passenger on a bicycle, or is towed as a passenger by a bicycle must wear a safety helmet.

On Aug. 1, 1998 this helmet law was extended to include roller and inline skates and skateboards.