Children injured less often with grandparent drivers

By Sheryl Kay • Published: October 12th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Grandmas are hugs and love and home-baked cookies all rolled into one, and now it appears they may be the better automobile drivers as well.

For years studies have shown a higher rate of car accidents among senior drivers when compared to younger adults, but in a strange twist, new research shows that children are far less likely to be injured when riding with a grandparent than with their own parents.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, includes analysis of car crash claims made over a four-year period in 15 different states. In all, almost 12,000 children up to age 15 were involved in the accidents.

At first glance, the researchers noticed that children suffered the same types of injuries regardless of the driver. Most claims involved broken bones or head injuries and concussions. Furthermore, while grandparents adhered to safe driving protocol as often as parents did, the older generation was less likely to perform the given procedure properly. For example, grandparents were as likely as parent drivers to strap the young ones into car seats, but they were more likely to install the car seat incorrectly.

But even with all that taken into account, overall about one percent of the children in the study were injured while riding with a parent driver, whereas only zero-point-seven percent were injured when a grandparent was behind the wheel, a 33 percent lower risk. And when taking into account other factors that could influence injury rates, like the use of an older model car, the difference in accident rates actually jumped to a 50 percent difference.

The researchers recommended further study of grandparents’ driving practices with the ultimate goal of enhancing education guidelines for all drivers by figuring out just how grandparents drive their grandkids.

The only question is, are oatmeal cookies involved?