BOISE, Idaho (News Release) – Children who are motor vehicle passengers have a new statewide champion. Carma McKinnon, from Carmen, Idaho, was recently selected to lead Idaho’s child passenger safety efforts.

As the program’s new coordinator, she will provide centralized leadership, support and oversight of Idaho’s child passenger safety program, which will be hosted by Lemhi County. The program will provide for consistent training of CPS technicians and instructors, and for car seat check opportunities statewide.

“I am looking forward to the challenges that this opportunity brings,” said McKinnon. “I believe that if all Idahoans work together, we can build a strong statewide child passenger safety program that everyone will benefit from. Especially Idaho’s little ones.”

McKinnon spent 14 years working with St. Luke’s Safe Kids Magic Valley as their child passenger safety instructor and for the last two years as the Safe Kids coordinator. She became a national certified car seat technician in 1992. In 2000, she became a certified instructor in child passenger safety, and in 2002 she was certified in special needs car seats. She has been actively involved in injury prevention for more than 20 years.

“The purpose for centralizing the state’s child passenger safety leadership is to make the CPS program statewide, and ensure the program’s focus is about educating all Idahoans – including law enforcement – about ensuring children are restrained properly in vehicles,” said Sherry Jenkins, with Idaho Transportation Department’s Office of Highway Safety.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children age 4 and ages 11-14, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The research goes on to show that effective child safety seats reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers, ages 1 to 4 years old.

From 2010 to 2014, 21 children under 7 years old were killed in Idaho motor vehicle crashes. Of these children, 11 were not restrained. During the same period, 66 children were seriously injured; 41 of whom were not restrained. An additional 415 children were visibly injured; 140 of whom were not restrained.

Parents continue to place very young children, infant to age 3, in a child seat at a high rate of 94 percent, but only 62 percent of parents place their toddlers (ages 4 to 6) in child safety seats or booster seats.

Lemhi County will be the “hub” of Idaho’s child passenger safety program, Jenkins said, adding that there was strong support for the effort coming from county commissioners and Sheriff Lynn Bowerman, who was an early supporter.