I’ve just read an thought-provoking research article from the journal, Pediatrics, Grandparents Driving Grandchildren: An Evaluation of Child Passenger Safety and Injuries (freely available, PDF full text or abstract. As a part of this study, the researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School collected insurance data on 11,850 children who were in car accidents, some of them driving with parents and others driving with grandparents.
And guess what the researchers observed?
Something about the way grandparents drive, the data indicate, keeps their grandchildren safer when an accident occurs, than when the children are driving with parents. Researchers hope to investigate further to find out more about this phenomenon, especially given that 70 million boomers are moving into the grandparent phase of life.
According to the article:
Although nearly all children were reported to have been restrained, children in crashes with grandparent drivers used optimal restraints slightly less often. Despite this, children in grandparent-driven crashes were at one-half the risk of injuries as those in parent driven crashes.
As boomers age and become grandparents, increasing numbers of them will be driving grandchildren around. According to a CHOP press release about the article, “With grandparents taking on a greater role in transporting their grandchildren, less optimal use of child restraints concerns us,” says Flaura Koplin Winston, MD, PhD. She is a co-author of the study.
Also in the press release, Fred Henretig, MD, lead author and an attending physician in CHOP’s Department of Emergency Medicine,points out that children would be better protected if they followed best safety restraint practices, but he points out that “… we were surprised to find that there is something about grandparents’ driving style with their ‘precious cargo’ in tow that provides a protective benefit for those children. If we can learn more about this style of driving, we can help drivers of all ages keep kids safe in cars.”
I wonder, what role cell phones and texting play in the parents’ driving and accidents?
Some Other Oddities Given that Children Were At Less Risk With Their Grandparents.
- Grandparents often drove car models with higher risk of injuries in accidents.
- Many grandparents, because of their age, are in a pool of higher risk drivers to begin with.
- Children: In Crashes, a Grandparent Safety Factor – New York Times, September 12, 2011
- Kids Are Safer in the Car With Their Grandparents Behind the Wheel - Time, July 18, 2011
- Grandparent Drivers Keep Kids Safer in Crashes – MSNBC, July 18, 2011