Kids safer with grandparents behind the wheel
July 18th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Kids safer with grandparents behind the wheel

Youngsters who are driven by their grandparents are less likely to suffer from serious injury if they're involved in a crash, says a new study in the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as doctors from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, found even though grandparents are in an older group that has a higher risk of severe crashes, youngsters driven by their grandparents suffered fewer injuries in crashes and were actually safer than children driven by their parents.

“With more and more baby boomers becoming grandparents, we were concerned about children in crashes with grandparents,” says Dr. Fred Henretig, lead author and an attending physician in the Philadelphia hospital's Department of Emergency Medicine.

Investigators, looked at more than four years of crash data ( January 2003- November 2007) to compare restraint-use practices and injuries among children in crashes with grandparents vs. parents. Injury data were collected on 11,859 children under the age of 15. Children driven by grandparents made up 9.5 percent of the sample taken, but resulted in only 6.6 percent of the total injuries.

Researchers found that nearly all children were either in car seats or had seat belts on during the crashes. However children in grandparent-driven vehicles were less likely to be restrained correctly. Despite this, little ones in grandparent-driven crashes had half the risk of injuries as those in parent-driven crashes.

“Although the children in crashes with grandparents could be better protected if they were using child restraints correctly, we were surprised to find that there is a protective effect on child injury risk in a crash when grandparents are driving. There is something about grandparents’ driving style with their ‘precious cargo’ in tow that is protective. If we can learn more about this style of driving, we can help drivers of all ages keep kids safe in cars," noted Henretig.

soundoff (745 Responses)
  1. Tia

    Not a seat belt in sight – such safe drivers....

    July 18, 2011 at 01:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 12-21-12

      That photo was ridiculous!

      July 18, 2011 at 01:40 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      That was the first thing i noticed. Grandma and Grandpa haven't learned to text will driving. By the way I think the new rules against cellphone use while driving are ridiculous, if you can't talk and drive at the same time you shouldn't be driving.

      July 18, 2011 at 01:52 | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      They're also more likely to show up to school late.

      July 18, 2011 at 01:52 | Report abuse |
    • PHinMiami

      The photo was totally irresponsible. Too many parents are still driving around with their kids unbelted.

      July 18, 2011 at 01:56 | Report abuse |
    • guest

      A retrospective study...with an absolutely polluted conclusion. Somebody really wanted to get published!!!!!

      July 18, 2011 at 02:03 | Report abuse |
    • Joe Schmo

      This study fails to take into account the fact that younger people are less likely to crash into a pole at 5 miles per hour while dozing off.

      July 18, 2011 at 02:08 | Report abuse |
    • GrumpyOldLady

      Cheap, stock photo. Possibly freeware.

      July 18, 2011 at 02:09 | Report abuse |
    • Alex in Bremerton, WA

      We grew up BEFORE seat belts were standard equipment and required by law! (And I'm only 54!)

      July 18, 2011 at 06:27 | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      No seat belts because they didn't use them when the grandparents themselves were kids.

      And with advanced alztimers, they are lucky that grandpa even remembers where to sit in the car in order to drive.

      July 18, 2011 at 07:11 | Report abuse |
  2. omfgcute

    stupid scientific study of the day..........

    July 18, 2011 at 01:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. JAG

    This is what we spend money on? Tax payers money goes to this? Thanks Obummer

    July 18, 2011 at 01:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jack

      You are an idiot who knows nothing about scientific research

      July 18, 2011 at 01:46 | Report abuse |
    • Craigsf5

      Obama critics say the stupidest things. Yes, you're completely right. Obama asked for that study, then paid for it with your tax money. Great call, genious!

      July 18, 2011 at 02:03 | Report abuse |
    • guest

      I agree JAG is a jerk but this was retrospective study...with an absolutely polluted conclusion. Somebody really wanted to get published!!!!!

      July 18, 2011 at 02:05 | Report abuse |
    • GrumpyOldLady

      It doesn't tell you who funded it. But if it was gov $, why do you assume it was expensive. Research data abstractors make little money. I did it for years. No big deal.

      July 18, 2011 at 02:16 | Report abuse |
  4. Astrid G.

    What an inappropriate picture – kids not buckled in, grandparents beltless.

    July 18, 2011 at 01:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Bill

    Shouldn't those kids be strapped in?

    July 18, 2011 at 01:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. joebloe

    Who's finding these rediculous surveys?

    July 18, 2011 at 01:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eddie Trojan

      I suspect it's the same people who are funding the effort to teach us the proper spelling of "rediculous." Nice work – in this case, we all win.

      July 18, 2011 at 02:10 | Report abuse |
  7. bob

    Providing they wear their seat belts of course!

    July 18, 2011 at 01:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Some Dude

    that's because they drive so slow.

    July 18, 2011 at 01:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Indi

      Exactly! They drive slow. They won't take the freeway. They stay close to home. Because they can't see where they are going!

      July 18, 2011 at 02:51 | Report abuse |
  9. Answer man.

    Because old people drive slow!!!

    July 18, 2011 at 01:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. JAG

    Its ok they look to be illegal immigrants so if they get in an accident they get free healthcare...thtas why they dont wear seatbelts

    July 18, 2011 at 01:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Johan S

      Yes because eating through a feeding tube is an awesome way to live. Much better than having to work right? Makes life really worth living.

      July 18, 2011 at 02:02 | Report abuse |
    • Eddie Trojan

      Ohh Ohh Ohh!!! Reatreaded has some tires on sale for you!!!

      July 18, 2011 at 02:11 | Report abuse |
    • GrumpyOldLady

      Late night troll you are. Go away.

      July 18, 2011 at 02:18 | Report abuse |
  11. DarkMarcsun

    Worst example photo accompanying an article ever.

    July 18, 2011 at 01:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Chris B

    Wow, how surprising. It's not like grandparents are known to drive ridiculously slowly such that every possible accident is a minor fender bender. That would be nonsense

    July 18, 2011 at 01:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Sheila

    Why aren't the buckled up?

    July 18, 2011 at 01:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Eddie Trojan

    Further noted was that grandparents were 343% more likely to be involved in a vehicular accident than the children's direct caregivers, however the average speed of impact was 7.4 mph. This statistic compares favorably with that of persons under the influence of cannabis, who have been noted to be 414% more likely to be involved in an accident, however the average speed of impact is 5.6 mph. Damn, there goes another shopping cart.

    July 18, 2011 at 01:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. forwardbias

    Its simple!! grandparents do not have to juggle 20 different things which is why they are less distracted..

    July 18, 2011 at 01:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hdm

      What I don't understand is why a lot of grandparents try to position themselves as the parents of their grandchildren? That is so annoying and reflect such an attempt to control and be patronizing. This article is definitely biassed, and does not reflect reality! What the journalist forgets to mention is that whist most of them have the " best interests in mind" they still forget to buckle kids properly, to feed them on time, to actual have the child' s interest in mind and his development, a lot of them I have found have a selfish egocentric interest in mind to make sure they favor them as opposed to the other grandparents , a whole agenda! This article sounds like the narrator's voice behind the Cailou cartoons, aka making the mum and dad sound stupid for the interest of the grandparents sounding as the smartest and most influential voice.

      July 18, 2011 at 02:55 | Report abuse |
    • Bartles looking for James

      No one "has" to juggle 20 things at once. Some just choose to.

      July 18, 2011 at 03:01 | Report abuse |
    • Bartles looking for James

      Hdm has mommy (mummy) and daddy issues.

      July 18, 2011 at 03:03 | Report abuse |
  16. Matthew

    I hope they took into account that older people speed less.

    July 18, 2011 at 01:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Catherine

    I was going to comment, but I see everyone else said what I was thinking. That's what she said!!!!

    July 18, 2011 at 01:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. phil

    I wonder if this study took into account how older people tend to rubberneck and drive half way down a high way with their left blinker on.

    July 18, 2011 at 01:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Steve Arnold

    OMG nice "safe" photo with no seatbelts. Way to go CNN!

    July 18, 2011 at 01:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. retarded

    New study finds kids that don't ride in cars are less likely to be involved in a car accident.

    July 18, 2011 at 01:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eddie Trojan

      Hi Retreaded –

      I have a '72 Opel hatchback that I'm looking for some tires for. Whadd'ya got?

      July 18, 2011 at 02:04 | Report abuse |
  21. Eddie Trojan


    Grandpa: Somewhere, from my honeymoon, I have a picture of your grandma kissing the sack of that big blue ox!

    Kids: Oh Grandpa!

    July 18, 2011 at 01:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Johnny

    So... in my 15 years of driving thus far, the biggest dangers on the road have been the elderly.

    July 18, 2011 at 01:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Steve

    I hope no one spent money on this study.

    July 18, 2011 at 01:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Marti

    You have to be a grandparent to understand this. The child you are driving is more precious to a grandparent because it is THEIR child's child. If anything were to happen, not only would the grandparent be devastated because they love their grandchild so much, but the pain is double because it's also inflicted on their adult child. Whether it's driving, or anything else, a grandparent is super careful. Simple logic.

    July 18, 2011 at 01:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eddie Trojan

      Yes Marti – you are likely correct. I am attending a party next week, at which I hope we can meet. Perhaps we could talk about the weather or something equally interesting?

      July 18, 2011 at 01:59 | Report abuse |
    • Hdm

      I agree with you but are you saying that your children don't care about their kids as well as you do???

      July 18, 2011 at 03:00 | Report abuse |
  25. Melissa

    Please remove the photo of kids not in seat belts..sends the wrong message.

    July 18, 2011 at 01:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • I'm easily swayed

      Seriously? You think someone is going to see a picture on CNN's web site and be influenced?

      July 18, 2011 at 03:06 | Report abuse |
    • shabutie

      Sweet! Finally endorsement for my reckless lifestyle! Hey kids good news, no more seatbelts for us! Thanks CNN! =D

      July 18, 2011 at 03:42 | Report abuse |
  26. Olivia

    Wow this is good to know. My grandma like wont drive my sister and I on the free way because she thinks we r gonna crash. I really have to show her this!

    July 18, 2011 at 01:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eddie Trojan

      Like, totally.

      July 18, 2011 at 02:01 | Report abuse |
  27. Johan S

    This doesn't prove that kids are safer with grandpa .. the number of accidents is higher .. so they are still at risk for a severe accident over a given number of trips.

    statistics fail.

    July 18, 2011 at 02:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Cindy

    Grandpa's eyes appear to be diverted from the road.

    July 18, 2011 at 02:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Kevin

    This is research. Before wasting more money on research, the answer is simple as to why they are safer and that is speed. They often are retired and drive much slower and less aggressively. That is all. What a dumb article and even dumber researcher.

    July 18, 2011 at 02:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. stupid

    This is by far the dumbest article I've read...and its a main article on the main page!. Lets see here....

    1. The picture has no one buckled in. It is irrelevant whether they are actually truly driving or not....you need to take a damn picture with EVERYONE buckled in. Good god.

    2. As people age, knowledge increases...therefore, they grow experience to avoid idiots who drive recklessly. Generally, most of the older population will let a crazy driver/tailgater/floater pass them by slowing down.

    3. THEY'RE OLD. Hasn't the idiots who did this research realized 20 years ago that older people drive slower?! Thus, if they are in a collision, it is going to have substantially less force, as opposed to a teenager speeding.

    I generally do not post, but good freaking god, this article was completely obvious, and a waste of time. Also, if some morons wasted money on this "study" then may god have mercy on their souls.

    July 18, 2011 at 02:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kirstyloo

      Actually, older people have higher rates of accidents. This risk is reflected in how their car insurance increases as one ages...kind of like it goes down after 18, 25 or when you get married.

      July 18, 2011 at 18:35 | Report abuse |
  31. Jeffery Bradley

    Where are the seat belts? Extremely misleading pictures. I know the grandparents are not driving so slow do one will be thrown out the car. Make one wonder if CNN put these types on pics in the articles to get responses.

    July 18, 2011 at 02:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. The Offended Blogger

    This picture is an absolute joke. Or comedic genius, I'm not sure which.

    July 18, 2011 at 02:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • shabutie

      Actually I think the problem is the context. I'm sure they just got in the car from a rest stop, haven't yet even turned the ignition. They'll buckle up when it's time to go, relax, didn't you hear? Grandpa is the safest driver around.

      July 18, 2011 at 03:44 | Report abuse |
  33. herp derp

    for all the people saying that the picture doesnt fit the article, you didnt read the article.

    "However children in grandparent-driven vehicles were less likely to be restrained correctly. Despite this, little ones in grandparent-driven crashes had half the risk of injuries as those in parent-driven crashes."

    The picture is fitting because it describes something that the article talked about - unrestrained kids in grandparents' cars.

    July 18, 2011 at 02:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • shabutie

      O rly? Because I understand "restrained correctly" to mean they attempted to restrain them, but not correctly. So maybe johnny's seatbelt is on, but it's not on very tight. So apparently you read the article, but you suck at using a dictionary.

      July 18, 2011 at 03:46 | Report abuse |
  34. Eddie Trojan

    I understand that children in Boy Scout driven vehiches are 716% more likely to be making up a good story as to what they did over the weekend. This figure is only exceeded by children in vehicles driven by Priests, at 718%.

    July 18, 2011 at 02:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. AndreaM

    Well, geezers drive slowly and low speed crashes tend to stick to the laws of physics in that when they are stopped quickly, the bodies in motion in the car have less speed therefore they impact restraints, colums, etc with less force. Either way, you have to be suicidal to give either of my grandparents the keys.

    July 18, 2011 at 02:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. mandi

    Well i would assume too that grandparents are more experienced drivers. More time on the road

    July 18, 2011 at 02:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Phil

    I disagree. Seniors are by far worse drivers and they make roads dangerous for others. They drive half the speed limit, cant see a car coming up beside them when they change lanes, etc. I dont know how many times ive almost been in an accident. I say there should be a certain age for older folks that it is manditory to take a driving test again.

    July 18, 2011 at 02:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • shabutie

      There's a new study coming out tomorrow, that shows that grandparents are safer on the road but are the leading cause of accidents where drivers under the age of 50 didn't know how to deal with old people coming into their lane, leaving their signal on, signalling the opposite direction they intended to go, driving really slow for no apparent reason, braking hard suddenly and without warning, swerving to avoid a piece of paper they thought was a deer, etc etc.

      July 18, 2011 at 03:51 | Report abuse |
    • amalizard

      You talk about seniors like they're going to keel over while they're driving. Do you even know how many grandparents are technically not seniors? My mom is 58 and a grandparent. Does this make her an old geezer? I'm pretty sure it doesn't. The article never mentions age, it mentions "baby-boomers" and "grandparents". A "senior" is my 84 year-old grandmother, and all of her grandchildren have been driving for years, so by the time she was a "senior", her grandkids were driving her around, not the other way.

      July 18, 2011 at 22:03 | Report abuse |
  38. evil conservative

    Grandparents are less likely to text while driving. However, with so many grandparents being babyboomers, Iam concerned about some having mind altering flashbacks of Grateful Dead concerts.

    July 18, 2011 at 02:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. lou50

    this story wasn't taken from the state I live in. the grand parents can't drive any better than their children. they even have a law to prevent the parents from teaching their children to drive in an effort to improve the driving.

    July 18, 2011 at 04:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Lejaune

    The data only says grandparents crash less severely than parents when there is crash. This is understandable because grandparents tend to drive slower. However, it says nothing about the likelihood of crash, grand parents vs parents.

    July 18, 2011 at 05:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JLB

      I agree. The first thing I thought of when I read this was how slow my mom drives. Cars pile up behind her on routes waiting for a safe place to pass. I frequenty hear my mom complain about how crazy someone was passing her under certain conditions (such as near the entrance to town) and I just think about how that person probably had been waiting for 20 minutes to pass and was taking the first opportunity. She has a 30 min commute to work and it takes her 45 min. I can totally see how any accident she would be in would be less severe since she is traveling slower. However, that doesn't mean she has less accidents. They should look at total accident numbers too and the causes of the accidents.

      July 18, 2011 at 10:05 | Report abuse |
  41. Joe

    why is everyone making such a big deal about the stock photo?..The car is not moving..maybe that's why they are not wearing seat belts..I do not drive and have been in the car with my dad (in his 60's ) and my sister (40)..I would rather be in the car with my dad..A better and more relaxed driver. My sister drives too fast, gets into road rage fits, and answers her cell phone while driiving.

    July 18, 2011 at 05:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Todd

    Older people drive generally bigger heavier cars, therefore the accidents are big but the damage is not to their own cars and passengers, but to the cars they hit.

    July 18, 2011 at 06:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Terry

    The study needs to be refined. A grandparent at 50 and healthy is a much different driver than a 70 year old with dementia. A healthy 80 year old is different than a 55 year old grandparent with Parkinson's disease and dementia. The good aspect of the article is that some younger individuals prejudge grandparents as bad drivers simply on account of advancing age without taking into account their wisdom.

    July 18, 2011 at 06:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Jeweleigh

    OMG people...it is JUST a picture. Think about it...you are complaining about people not wearing seat belts in a picture. This is why the World has become the way it is.

    July 18, 2011 at 06:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Mike

    Maybe it's a "two-way street" and the engagement with the grandchildren helps the grandparents drive more effectively?

    July 18, 2011 at 07:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Grandma

    Wow. I would have never expected our children hate us this much. The study may or may not be true – but the hatred towards grandparents seems to be very true. It is just sad what most of you think about your parents.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Pankaj Manocha

    I have read few comments about the study before even posting here. This pic must have been clicked while the car was on stand still and not in motion ( seat belt )
    I certainly believe in a study as I feel strongly that older generation people (grand parents) drive more carefully because if multiple reasons like they are not in rush (unlike us we are always in morning), drive slow under speed limits, more careful about there vehicle and riders, do not text (which is illegal now) or take calls while driving , follow " one thing at a time rule" ,wiser because of their experience in driving througout life and many more. To me it makes more sense that they generally involve in less crashes and that's it, irrespective if the fact who is sitting in the vehicle.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Vaughan Wynne-Jones

    The data shows that kids are less likely to be strapped in correctly by their grandparents, and yet are less likely to be seriously injured. The author then leaps to the mysterious conclusion that the grandparents are somehow safer drivers... what if the kids are thrown clear or can move out of the way of a car barreling into the passenger door when they are not restrained? I believe in seatbelts, but not blindly. I would like to see more research done here to see whether they truly are safer or give a false sense of security instead.

    July 18, 2011 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Tonelok

    Statistically speaking, it's safer to be in the car with an old person, than in the car the old person hits.....

    July 18, 2011 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Grouch53

    The reason, in part, is that we do not use most devices like cell phones, PDA's and other distracting item when we are driving. When my two grandaughters are in our car it is seatbelts on for all, radio turned down and wer talked about things.

    July 18, 2011 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
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