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Let Grandma or Grandpa Drive The Kids: Study Shows Elderly Are Safer Drivers

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We’ve all heard the stereotype before: the elderly are the most dangerous drivers on the roads. However, according to an analysis of State Farm Insurance claims, it’s actually safer for the grandkids to go on a car ride with grandma or grandpa, rather than mom or dad. Even the study’s lead author, Dr. Fred Henretig, an emergency medicine specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, was shocked to see the results.

Dr. Henretig analyzed State Farm insurance claims for 2003-07 car crashes in 15 states, and conducted interviews with the drivers. The data involved nearly 12,000 children up to age 15. Previous research indicates that older drivers (especially those over the age of 65) are more likely to have car crashes than younger drivers. However, the results of Dr. Henretig’s study show that children are less likely to suffer severe accident-related injuries while driving in the car with their grandparents; in fact, children are 50 percent less likely to be injured as compared to the risk of driving with their parents.

Dr. Henretig was prompted to conduct the study by the birth of his first grandchild. He also has his own theory explaining the unexpected findings: grandparents may feel more responsible to keep the "precious cargo" safe and may adopt more cautious driving habits to compensate for their slower reaction times and other age-related issues.