The fifth annual 2021 Texas Child Passenger Safety Conference was held virtually June 29–July 1, 2021. Sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation, the conference was organized by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. With 384 attendees this year, the conference helped child passenger safety technicians (CPSTs) stay informed on the latest research and best practices aimed at keeping our most precious cargo safe when traveling, while also providing them with continuing education credits for CPST recertification.
A familiar voice to many CPSTs, Lieutenant Lonny Haschel served as both conference emcee and a keynote speaker. His keynote address presented strategies for building partnerships with law enforcement to enhance child passenger safety education in local communities. The conference’s featured speaker was David Mooney, associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and director of the Trauma Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. In his keynote presentation, Mooney provided firsthand examples of how car seat misuse results in serious injuries.
“This was our second year to host the Texas Child Passenger Safety Conference in a virtual environment,” says TTI Senior Research Scientist Katie Womack. “We learned so much the first year, but there is nothing quite like the anticipation and excitement of opening day when that first session begins, and it all comes together. Thinking about everyone at the conference learning something new is worth all the effort it takes to get to that moment.”
This year’s conference featured two general session speakers as well. Kathleen Klinich, with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, has more than 30 years of research experience on occupant protection in motor-vehicle crashes. Klinich gave the presentation, Misuse and Best Practice: What Does the Latest Research Show? General session speaker, Denise Donaldson, publisher of the Safe Ride News™ newsletter and the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) Manual, presented the well-received session titled Honey, Does This Car Seat Make My Rear Seat Look Small?, which addressed how to fit car seats in smaller vehicles.
Breakout sessions included:
- Fact or Fiction (Tony Jerisha and Bob Wall),
- Updates from Greenie, the 2021 LATCH Manual (Denise Donaldson),
- The Price Is Right (Erin Kuroiwa),
- Hot Topics (Sarah Tilton),
- Building a Better Booster (Kathleen Klinich), and
- Virtual Inspections (Bob Wall).
Sessions like Fact or Fiction and The Price Is Right kept the fun going with an interactive workshop for conference participants. Other sessions, such as Updates from Greenie, Hot Topics, and Building a Better Booster, helped CPSTs be in the know on relevant information. The Virtual Inspections session discussed the benefits of virtual CPS education as a helpful tool for the CPST toolbox. TTI posted on social media leading up to and during the conference, and attendees will carry the conference’s excitement into next year and apply what they learned.