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Are Grandparents Safer Drivers?

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Posted on August 16, 2013

Driving may get more difficult as people age and vision begins to decline with vision sometimes declining, but children may actually be safer with grandma or grandpa at the wheel, a study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests.

Parade magazine reported that, although adults have a similar accident rate, accidents involving senior drivers resulted in less serious injuries. Most children were reported to have been restrained at the time of the crash. However, children in grandparent-driven vehicles were less likely to use optimal restraints than in parent-driven vehicles. Despite this factor, children in crashes with grandma or grandpa driving were at one-half the risk of injuries than those in crashes with mom or dad at the wheel.

“These results suggest that there are some unaccounted-for protective grandparent driving style characteristics,” the study stated. “An extensive literature exists on older drivers, suggesting that as a group, they are more risk averse than younger drivers but suffer from perceptual deficiencies and problems judging and responding to traffic flow.”

The study also indicates that grandparents may be more cautious on the road because they have ‘precious cargo’ in the vehicle.

The cross-sectional study of motor vehicle crashes that occurred between 2003 and 2007 involved children aged 15 years or younger, with cases identified through insurance claims and data collected via follow-up telephone surveys. It concluded that grandchildren seem to be safer in crashes when driven by grandparents, but safety could be enhanced more if they followed current child-restraint guidelines.

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