March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about the impact of brain injuries on individuals and their families. Brain injury awareness, Vision Zero, and Complete Streets initiatives go hand in hand. Both Vision Zero and Complete Streets initiatives strive to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities on our roads and increase safety for all road users – pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and public transportation users.
Vision Zero is an approach developed in Sweden that’s now being adopted worldwide to reduce road fatalities and injuries to zero. The goal is to make our streets safe for all and to prioritize human life over vehicle speed. Vision Zero focuses on a safe system approach that looks at several factors, including safer infrastructure, safer vehicles, safer speeds, and behavior change.
Complete Streets, on the other hand, is a transportation policy that seeks to design streets that are safe, accessible, and convenient for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transportation users. Complete Streets aim is to balance the needs of all road users equitably and enhance the quality of life in communities. The implementation of Complete Streets is critical for achieving Vision Zero.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are the most common type of brain injury, which occur when an external force causes the brain tissues to move inside the skull. This can cause damage to the brain cells’ communication pathways, leading to a wide range of physical and mental symptoms. The consequences of brain injuries can be both short-term and long-term, and can also have a considerable impact on the individual’s life.
While safer infrastructure, speeds, and vehicles will lead the way to Vision Zero, encouraging behavior change will also make an impact. Street Smart NJ is a statewide public education, awareness, and, behavioral change campaign to address pedestrian safety in New Jersey. The campaign aims to raise awareness of motorist and pedestrian laws and change the behaviors that lead to pedestrian and cyclist crashes and fatalities in New Jersey. Greater Mercer TMA is working to spread the campaign further by providing technical assistance to municipalities in Mercer and Ocean County to implement their own campaign. Greater Mercer TMA can serve as the lead organization for the campaign working with a committee of stakeholders such as police, public health, schools, pedestrian/bicycle groups, and elected officials. Marketing, street-level outreach, and, law enforcement efforts are all part of the campaign. Communities that are interested in conducting a Street Smart campaign are encouraged to contact Greater Mercer TMA at 609-452-1492 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Brain injury awareness is critical as traumatic brain injuries are common in motor vehicle crashes, and a significant portion of these crashes involve vulnerable road users like pedestrians and bicyclists. By creating safer streets and reducing hazardous behaviors on our roads, we can help make a difference by reducing the number of brain injuries and fatalities caused by road crashes. Our goal is to ensure that infrastructure design, behavioral modifications, and technological advances prioritize safety, thus creating safer streets for all users. By incorporating safe infrastructure and behavioral changes in our society, we aim to create a culture of safety that will lead to fewer brain injuries on our roads, reduce fatalities to zero, and create communities that only enhance the quality of life for all communities.