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by Tim Beissmann

Children are 33 per cent less likely to be injured in a car crash when their grandparents are driving rather than the children’s parents.

New research by the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia revealed the surprising findings, which seemingly defy other crash statistics.

The researchers looked at insurance data from car crashes in 15 US states between 2003 and 2007. The data involved almost 12,000 children aged below 15.

Overall, 0.70 per cent of children were injured when riding with their grandparents, compared with 1.05 per cent who were injured when one of their parents was behind the wheel.

Even though only 10 per cent of children were driven by their grandparents, the report showed they suffered proportionally fewer injuries.

The report’s lead author, Dr Fred Henretig, said he was surprised at the study’s conclusion.

Older drivers are known to be involved in a higher percentage of car crashes. They are also more likely to drive older cars and are less likely to fit child car seats properly.

Researchers believe the circumstances of the car trips made by grandparents could have an impact on the results. They suggested grandparents could be less distracted and less busy than parents, and that driving might be a form of relaxed ‘quality time’ with the grandchildren.

The locations of trips – busy cities versus quiet roads – could also influence the results, but was not included in the study.

The average age of the grandparents in the survey was 58 – quite young as grandparents go – so most did not fit the stereotype of a frail old battler limping to their car on a walking frame.

What do you think of the findings? Are grandparents really safer drivers, or are there too many other factors at play here to draw a conclusion? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.




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