Kids Safer With Grandparents Behind Wheel, Study Finds

Quit grousing about senior drivers. Sure, they drive 45 mph on the freeway. Yes, you could grow old yourself waiting for them to realize the light turned green.

And you wish there was some way to tell them their left turn signal has been blinking since Albuquerque.

But consider this: Researchers at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found children are safer riding with Grandma or Grandpa behind the wheel than their own parents. Mom and Dad have the reflexes, but Grandma and Grandpa have the experience -- with just a dash of paranoid caution.

The Globe and Mail in Canada reports this is a stunning discovery, especially when you consider the older generation has a more lackadaisical attitude toward car seats and safety belts.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, assessed crash data on 11,859 children in 15 states and the District of Columbia from 2003 to 2007.

While grandparents made up 9.5 percent of the drivers in the crashes analyzed, only 6.6 percent of the injuries occurred with them in the driver's seat.

"We were surprised to find that there is a protective effect on child-injury risk in a crash when grandparents are driving," Fred Henretig, the lead researcher, tells the Globe and Mail. "There is something about grandparents' driving style with their 'precious cargo' in tow that is protective."

Flaura Winston, the director of the National Science Foundation's Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies and co-author of the study, adds seniors "tend to drive more slowly, more cautiously and in the right lane."

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