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Study: Kids Safer in Crashes With Grandparent Drivers

Kids With Grandparent Drivers at Half the Risk of Injuries as Kids With Parent Drivers Who Crash

Grandparent Drivers: Perspectives

The lower crash rate with grandparent drivers may have several explanations, says Nancy Thompson, a spokeswoman for AARP. She reviewed the findings for WebMD.

Older drivers often ''self-regulate," she tells WebMD. "They choose not to drive at night, not to drive in heavy traffic," she says. They often stick to familiar routes. "That may be contributing to it," she says of the lower injury rate.

Thompson also points to recent research finding an overall decline in crash rates among older drivers compared to middle-aged drivers. For instance, a June 2010 report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found just that.

Leon James, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii who studies the psychology of driving, also reviewed the study. "It is unclear what the actual difference is due to," he says of the grandparent-parent driver differences.

He considers the differences found to be small, however. He also points out that it is not a general study about the safety of children transported by parents vs. grandparents, but only a look at what happens in crashes.

"The real importance of this research, in my view, is to show that we need to prepare for the arrival of the baby boomers into the grandparent generation," he says. "We need to train them adequately to understand the importance of using child restraints appropriately."

James offers another tip to parent and grandparent drivers: Be mindful of your driving style and language. Children pick up driving styles and attitudes early, he says.

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