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.

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