With 384 attendees this year, the fifth annual 2021 Texas Child Passenger Safety 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. The conference also provided participants with continuing education credits for CPST recertification. Sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation, the conference was held virtually June 29–July 1, 2021, and was organized by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Lt. Lonny Haschel with the Texas Department of Public Safety gave a keynote address on 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 presentation, Mooney provided firsthand examples of how car seat misuse results in serious injuries.
This year’s conference featured two general session speakers. Kathleen Klinich, a researcher with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, gave the presentation “Misuse and Best Practice: What Does the Latest Research Show?” Denise Donaldson, publisher of the Safe Ride News™ newsletter and the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) Manual, presented the well-received session Honey, Does This Car Seat Make My Rear Seat Look Small?, which addressed how to fit car seats in smaller vehicles.
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, brought CPSTs up to speed on those topics. And the session Virtual Inspections discussed the benefits of virtual child passenger safety 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.
“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.”