Old DriverEnlarge Photo
Forget any preconceived notions you may have about older drivers: a new study has revealed that children may be safest in cars when a grandparent, not a parent, is behind the wheel.
While previous studies showed that older drivers have more accidents, the new research focused exclusively on passenger injuries. The new data revealed that children riding with grandparents had a fifty-percent lower risk of injury than children riding with their parents.
Even the author of the study, Dr. Fred Henretig of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, can’t fully explain why this might be. He speculates that grandparents may be more attentive with grandchildren in the car, and cites his own experience as a driving force behind the study.
“I found myself being very nervous on the occasions that we drove our granddaughter around,” Henretig said, “and really wondered if anyone had looked at this before.”
Additional concern on the part of grandparents may lead to increased focus behind the wheel, but grandparents were lax about observing recommended child seating practices. Many were unaware that infant seats should be rear-facing and installed in the backseat, not front seats.
Grandparents may be less prone to distraction as well, since they’re usually not juggling errands, a career and rush hour commuting with children in the car. Many viewed driving trips with grandchildren as quality time that reduced stress instead of compounding it.
Another factor? Grandparents are getting younger and healthier than ever before, and the average age of grandparents in the study was 58. That doesn’t exactly fit the stereotype of the blue-haired grandmother, driving at exactly 54 miles per hour in the passing lane.