In a study on auto accidents and traffic safety, researchers from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia hypothesized that children in cars driven by their grandparents would be at higher risk for injury compared to kids in cars driven by their parents and other adults. Well, guess what? Researchers were wrong on this one. After looking at five years worth of crash data, including 217,976 children involved in auto accidents, researchers found that grandparents were behind the wheel in only 9.5 percent of children's car accidents (the rest were parents and other adult drivers).
Even after adjusting for the total amount of time children spent being chauffeured by their parents versus their grandparents, the older set was still the safest drivers: children in grandparent-driven crashes had half the risk of injuries as those in parent-driven crashes. The secret to their safety success? Researchers think older drivers may be more nervous about driving with their "precious cargo" aboard and naturally use more caution.
Where did grandparents fail? Researchers note that while nearly all children were restrained in appropriate car safety seats during any crash or auto accident, children in grandparent-driven vehicles were less likely to have their safety belts adjusted to an optimal position and tightness. Before you do something like turn daycare pickup duty over to grandma, study authors suggest reviewing car seat safety and positioning guidelines with grandparents—or better yet, strap your child in yourself before she and Grandpa go out for a drive.