Riding in a car with grandma and grandpa may be safer for kids

Although many Florida parents want nothing more than to know that their children are safe, a recent study suggests that the driving habits of parents may actually be harmful to their children.

According to a doctor at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, grandparents behind the wheel are half as likely as parents to cause car accidents when children are passengers. Ten percent of accidents between 2003 and 2007, which involved 217,976 children, occurred when grandparents were driving. Of those crashes, grandparents were only at fault for 7 percent of injuries to children under the age of 16.

The doctor came to his conclusion that grandparents may be safer drivers rather than parents when children are in the car after analyzing data collected by an insurance company. The data was collected from 15 different states during a five year span and only included information about car crashes involving children.

Although the elderly are more prone to car accidents because of slower reflexes and the inability to make quick decisions during heavy traffic, they also tend to be more cautious by driving slower than other adults and by taking fewer risks that could result in a crash. They are also less likely to take longer trips using highways, where many accidents involving injuries or fatalities occur.

However, statistics also revealed that grandparents are less likely to follow safety recommendations regarding car seats or seatbelts. In one study, 25 percent of grandparents did not follow those guidelines. Some believe that grandparents may have simply not been aware of newer requirements regarding the use of car seats and booster seats.

The study may give parents a better sense of comfort when their children are in the hands of grandparents, but the study should also make parents question their own driving habits. Are they speeding through yellow lights or talking on the phone when their children are in the car with them?

In Florida, accidents happen every day due to the carelessness and negligence of drivers, but drivers must also be aware of how they are responsible for ensuring the safety of others on the road.


TIME: “Kids Are Safer in the Car With Their Grandparents Behind the Wheelundefined,” Alice Park, 18 July 2011