Grandparents Are Better Drivers – When Kids Are in the Car

They get teased for driving slow or not paying attention, but older drivers could be the best thing for your kids. According to a new study out this morning, children may be safer when grandma and grandpa are driving instead of mom and dad.

Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia looked at State Farm insurance claims for car crashes between 2003 and 2007 from 15 states and the District. They found that while drivers over 65 are more likely to get into accidents, the risk of a child getting injured is 50 percent lower when a grandparent is driving.

The study's lead author says the study was actually developed after he experienced the birth of his first grandchild three years ago.

“I found myself being very nervous on the occasions that we drove our granddaughter around and really wondered if anyone had ever looked at this before,” Dr. Fred Henretig, an emergency medicine specialist said.

And while Henretig said researchers aren’t quite sure how to explain the findings, he said they have a theory.

“Perhaps grandparents are made more nervous about the task of driving with the ‘precious cargo’ of their grandchildren and establish more cautious driving habits,” researchers wrote in their study.

But transportation expert and Northwestern University Professor Joseph Schofer, who was not involved in the study, has another interesting interpretation of the results.

“Grandparents today are not that old,” Schofer said. “None of us should represent grandparents as kind of hobbling to the car on a walker.”

In fact, the average age of grandparents in the study is only 58-years-old. And Schofer also pointed out that grandparents may be less distracted than busy parents who have to rush around with their kids.

There was only one part of the study in which grandparents didn’t fare well. Grandparents are slightly less likely to follow the recommended uses of car seats or seat belts, meaning they aren’t as likely to install car seats facing the rear or they sometimes allow kids to sit up front.

The study is out this morning in the journal Pediatrics.

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