Lifestyle & Belief

Children safer with grandparents behind the wheel, study finds


Two elderly women take off their tops as hundreds of retirees disrupted traffic in Melbourne's city center in a protest against the Australian government's lack of support for seniors in the federal budget.


William West

Children involved in car crashes with grandparent drivers had half the risk of being injured as kids riding with their parents, the journal Pediatrics reported Monday.

This was despite grandparents not strapping kids in as well as parents and older drivers being more likely to get in accidents, according to the report in the August issue cited by MedPage Today.

"Perhaps grandparents are made more nervous about the task of driving with the 'precious cargo' of their grandchildren and establish more cautious driving habits to offset these challenges," the researchers reportedly wrote.

Grandparents made up 9.5 percent of drivers in crashes involving kids between 2003 and 2007, but they were associated with only 6.6 percent of injuries, NBC quotes the study as saying.

The rate of injury to children passengers was 0.70% in crashes with grandparent drivers and 1.05% in those with parent drivers.

Meanwhile, grandparents were just as safe as parents when it came to "markers of crash type and severity, such as posted speed limits, the direction of impact and whether wrecks resulted in rollovers or tows."

And grandparents weren't significantly more likely to put kids in the front seat (20.7 percent versus 18 percent).

“Isn’t this interesting? Maybe we’re not so bad after all,” NBC quoted lead study researcher and two-time grandfather Dr. Fred M. Henretig, as saying.

Henretig, a pediatrician and emergency room physician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, reportedly decided to embark on the study after the arrival of his grandkids "made him realize how nervous he was with the babies on board."

“You can’t let anything bad happen,” he said. “You think, ‘My son or my daughter would kill me if I get into an accident while I’m driving.’”