Kids may be safest in cars when grandma or grandpa are driving instead of mom or dad, according to study results that even made the researchers do a double-take. Previous evidence indicates that car crashes are more common in older drivers, but the study looked at injuries rather than who had more crashes. Overall, 1.05% of kids were injured when riding with parents, versus 0.70% of those riding with grandparents, a 33% lower risk. The difference was even more pronounced—50%—when the researchers took into account other things that could influence injury rates, including not using car seats, and older-model cars.
The study was prompted by the lead author's own experiences when his first grandchild was born three years ago. "I found myself being very nervous on the occasions that we drove our granddaughter around and really wondered if anyone had ever looked at this before." The results are from an analysis of State Farm insurance claims for 2003-2007 car crashes in 15 states, and interviews with the drivers. Reasons for the unexpected findings are uncertain, but the researchers have a theory: "Perhaps grandparents are made more nervous about the task of driving with the 'precious cargo' of their grandchildren and establish more cautious driving habits" to compensate for any age-related challenges, they wrote. (Read more grandparents stories.)