Characterizing the child passenger safety workforce in Michigan: A statewide survey in 2015

Michelle L. Macy*, Miriam A. Manary, Kathleen D. Klinich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: In this study, we assessed the number of child passenger safety technicians (CPSTs) in Michigan over 4 years and characterized the CPST workforce in 2015 to identify factors associated with high productivity and longevity in the field. Methods: We determined the number of CPSTs and those newly certified using lists from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) from 2012 to 2015. We conducted a statewide survey of Michigan CPSTs in October 2015. Analyses were conducted in 2016. The survey assessed demographic characteristics, reasons to enter the field and maintain certification, and motivations to conduct seat checks. We used CPST-reported time devoted to seat checks and average number of seats checked per month to create a composite “activity level” variable. We examined activity levels across several characteristics. Results: The number of CPSTs ranged from 941 to 980 over the study period, with approximately 200 new certifications annually. In 2015, surveys were started by 496 of 962 eligible CPSTs and 427 submitted complete responses. CPST-instructors had a higher response rate than CPSTs in general (89 vs. 49%, P <.0001). The majority of respondents were women (71%) and self-identified as white (88%). More than one third were 35–44 years old. Just 7% were comfortable checking seats using a language other than English. “Personal reasons” were most often cited motivation for becoming a CPST and maintaining certification. Natural fit/job enhancement were more common reasons to maintain certification than become a CPST. Time and distance had the greatest influence on seat check participation. Perceived need, appointments vs. drop-in, and employer factors were very influential for 10–15% of CPSTs. Few CPSTs considered free food and payments/giveaways very influential. About 40% of respondents were considered high-activity (>24 seats checked/year), one third medium-activity (5 to 24 seats checked/year), and one quarter low-activity (<5 seats checked/year). High-activity CPSTs most commonly reported both being paid and volunteering their time to check seats, worked with a Safe Kids coalition, worked in law enforcement or social services, and had recertified at least once. Motivation to participate in seat checks did not vary with activity level. Conclusions: Understanding the demographic characteristics and motivations of CPSTs can help Michigan OHSP recruit and retain a workforce dedicated to increasing the safety of child passengers. Agencies hosting seat checks can use these results to align the strategies they employ to incentivize CPSTs to serve in their communities with the factors that have the greatest influence on CPST participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-288
Number of pages7
JournalTraffic Injury Prevention
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 18 2019


  • Children
  • booster seat
  • child passenger safety technician
  • child restraints
  • child safety
  • infant seat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Safety Research


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