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Children Safer in Car Crashes When Grandparents Driving

Child's risk of injury in crashes with grandparents as drivers is half that of crashes with parent drivers

MONDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Children have a reduced risk of injury in crashes with grandparents as drivers than with parents, despite less optimal use of child restraint in grandparent-driver crashes, according to a study published online July 18 in Pediatrics.

Fred M. Henretig, M.D., from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues compared restraint-use practices and risk of injury among children (aged 15 years or younger) involved in vehicle crashes between grandparents and parents as drivers. Data were obtained from insurance claims and follow-up telephone surveys between 2003 and 2007. Relative risk of significant child-passenger injury was estimated and odds ratios (ORs) evaluated after adjusting for several child-occupant, driver, vehicle, and crash characteristics.

The investigators found that, though 9.5 percent of children from the total sample were driven by grandparents, they resulted in only 6.6 percent of total injuries. Injuries were reported for 1,302 children, representing 2,454 child injuries during the study period, in 1.02 percent of the child occupants. There were 161 and 2,293 injuries with grandparent and parent drivers, respectively (injury rate, 0.70 and 1.05 percent, respectively). After adjustments, the risk of injury for children in grandparent-driven crashes was halved as compared to parent-driven crashes (OR, 0.50), even though optimal restraint methods were used slightly less often by children in grandparent-driven crashes.

"Although children in crashes are at risk of injury when grandparents are drivers, this risk is lower than when parents are drivers, despite less optimal use of child restraint in grandparent-driver crashes," the authors write.

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