A report published in the August 2011 issue of the medical journal PEDIATRICS showed findings that were just the opposite of what the researchers had expected. Since most of us grandparents are in an older age group that has a higher risk of severe crashes, the researchers thought that grandparent-driven children would be at higher risk of injury. However, they found that children are actually safer in a crash when grandma or grandpa is behind the wheel.
The study authors examined five years worth of crash data, including more than 2,000 children. Grandparents comprised 9.5 percent of drivers in crashes (the rest were parents), but resulted in only 6.6 percent of the total injuries. Nearly all children were reported to be restrained at the time of the crash. However, children in grandparent-driven vehicles were less likely to be optimally restrained. Despite this, children in grandparent-driven crashes had half the risk of injuries as those in crashes when parents were driving.
We grandparents probably drive more cautiously when we have “precious cargo” on board, but our precious passengers would be even safer if we followed current child restraint guidelines. So we need to be more familiar with the best child seats -- and how to use them.