MONDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Some parents may hesitate to let their children ride in a car driven by grandparents because they believe the grandparent's driving skills may not be what they once were.
But, new research suggests that children are actually safer in auto accidents when a grandparent is at the wheel instead of a parent.
As a matter of fact, the odds of a child being injured in an auto accident were 50 percent less when a grandparent was driving.
However, one area where grandparents were found somewhat lacking was in child safety seat use. More than 25 percent of grandparents were lacking "optimal" child restraint use, and 2 percent of grandparents skipped child restraints altogether.
"More of the baby boomers are coming into grandparenthood now, and this important group of drivers of young children hadn't really been looked at critically," said study author Dr. Fred Henretig, an emergency room attending physician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and a grandfather himself. "Grandparents were a little bit less up-to-date on child restraints, but we discovered that the injury rate was lower in grandparent driver crashes," he noted.
"Something is going on. It looks like grandparents are doing something protective, but our study can't answer what that is," said Henretig, who added that he hopes this study stimulates even more research into the issue.
Results of the study will be published online July 18, and in the August issue of Pediatrics.
In general, older adults -- particularly after age 65 -- are more likely to be involved in automobile accidents, according to background information in the study. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that about 38 million American drivers are older than 65.
The study included insurance data on motor vehicle accidents that occurred from January 2003 t
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