Study: Kids safer in cars driven by grandparents

John Egan

Take note, Mom and Dad: Kids actually are safer in a car crash when Grandma or Grandpa is behind the wheel, according to a new study.

Researchers examined five years worth of data from State Farm and found that children in car crashes with a grandparent who was driving had half the risk of injuries as those in crashes with a parent who was driving.

"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 wrote.

Grandparents made up 9.5 percent of drivers in the crashes from 2003 through 2007 that were studied (the rest were parents), but the crashes with a grandparent behind the wheel resulted in only 6.6 percent of total injuries to children.

The study of data from crashes involving nearly 11,900 children under age 16 was published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The study also included follow-up surveys of drivers.

One bad rap for Grandma and Grandpa: Nearly all of the children in the crashes were wearing restraints, the study shows, but kids in grandparent-driven vehicles were less likely to be restrained as well as they should be.

The study was conducted by Dr. Fred Henretig and fellow researchers at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

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