Over the last year we have seen a troubling trend in traffic crashes and speeding behavior. Driving speed has increased overall, including on local roads shared with bicyclists and pedestrians. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in the United States and the leading cause of TBI-related death for children and young adults ages 5-24 years old. And for every person killed in a motor vehicle crash, another nine are being hospitalized. In 2014, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of hospitalizations for adolescents and adults aged 15 to 44 years of age.
According the Brain Injury Alliance of NJ (BIANJ), a traumatic brain injury can cause a wide range of short-term changes affecting thinking, sensation, language, and emotion. Physical consequences include seizures, headaches, and balance problems. Cognitive consequences include memory loss, trouble concentrating, poor judgement, and difficulty initiating activities. Emotional problems include depression, mood swings, anxiety, impulsivity, and agitation.
The good news is that there are ways to prevent traffic-related traumatic brain injuries. Here are a few:
- Buckle up, always wear your seat belt when you drive or ride in a car and keep reminding your teen to do the same when they have started driving
- Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs
- Don’t speed
- Wear a helmet when you ride a bike, motorcycle, scooter, skates, or skateboard
Municipalities and cities can also prevent traffic-related traumatic brain injuries by:
- Adopting and implementing a Complete Streets policy, providing streets that are safe for all users including pedestrian and bicyclists.
- Adopting and implementing a Vision Zero policy, including roadway design to reduce speed and speeding.
And to learn more about TBI, symptoms, and prevention, go to biausa.org.
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