Are Your Kids in Greater Danger of Auto Accident Injuries When Grandparents Drive?


March 01, 2012

As an increasing number of baby boomers become grandparents, some parents worry about whether an aging grandparent’s driving skills have declined, making them less safe when transporting grandchildren. The results of a study that was published recently will surprise many.

A recent study was conducted which was designed to determine whether children were at greater risk for being injured in a car accident while riding with a grandparent. Based on a wealth of data that indicates that senior drivers have accident rates similar to teen drivers, the researchers presumed that grandchildren were at an increased risk of being injured in an auto accident when riding with a grandparent. The findings of the study did not bear out this conclusion, but instead revealed that children are actually safer when their grandparent is driving.

A study published in the August issue of Pediatrics found that children were fifty percent less likely to be injured when riding in a vehicle driven by a grandparent than when a parent was driving. The study analyzed accident data reported by insurance companies between 2003 and 2007. An accident qualified for consideration if there was at least one passenger in the vehicle age 16 or under. Although grandparents made up 9.5 percent of drivers in the study, they accounted for only 6.6 percent of auto accidents resulting in injuries to kids under the age of 16. The researchers concluded that kids riding with a grandparent had a 30 percent reduced risk of being involved in a car accident resulting in injury, but a 5 percent increased risk when riding with a parent that is driving. When the researchers adjusted for other factors, they concluded that grandparents decreased the risk of accident-related injuries to their grandkids by fifty percent.

While this is just one study, its results are surprising to many because it flies in the face of a wealth of data that suggests that senior drivers have a higher risk of being involved in car accidents. Drivers age 75 or above have almost a forty percent greater risk of being involved in a car crash according to The Elder Law Journal. Certainly many seniors remain excellent drivers, but there is a fairly significant amount of evidence that, on average, driving ability declines as drivers increase in age beyond age 65.

Another factor that makes the results of this recent study curious is that the study revealed that grandparents were less effective and consistent in car seat use. Data revealed that only 75 percent of grandparents were maximizing use of child safety restraints while 2 percent of grandparents completely failed to use child safety restraints. The study authors indicate that if grandparents were closer to parents in their efficiency and effectiveness in utilizing car seats the results of the study favoring grandparents as safer drivers would be even more convincing.

While the researchers cannot explain the confounding results of the study, they propose that grandparents in some way make adjustments when transporting grandchildren. The bottom line is that the study indicates that your kids may be safe when grandma or grandpa is driving, but you might want to clarify the optimal use of your child safety restraint. We add the following caveat: you have to assess the qualifications of anyone who will drive your children, regardless of their age, and keep in mind that statistics such as these just speak to the what happens on average or in general- not to the skills of a particular driver.

If your kids are injured in a car accident, our Atlanta car accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates have been representing Atlanta car accident victims for over 28 years.

Our Atlanta car accident attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away and we will even come to you.

Category: Auto Accidents

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