A recent study shows that children who ride in the car with their grandparents are safer than those riding with their parents. "We were surprised to discover that the injury rate was considerably lower in crashes where grandparents were the drivers," Fred Henretig, lead researcher and doctor at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said to the Associated Press.

Published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics August issue, the study covered five years of crash data involving 217,976 children under the age of 15. Researchers found that children who were in an accident where a grandparent was driving the car were nearly 50 percent less likely to be injured than those who were in an accident when a parent was driving.

Some guess that children fare better in car accidents when their grandparents are driving because of the type of driving that’s being done. “Other possible factors for which there were no data to study: type of car trips (where and how much traffic) and whether grandparents are less distracted than busy parents dropping kids off while rushing to work or to do errands,” reports USA Today.

Kicking Tires surmises that the study “might deal with the more cautious driving habits of elderly drivers.”

This study is of particular interest considering another recent study’s finding that driving mistakes happen more often when older drivers are behind the wheel. “Failure to check vehicle blind spots was the most common mistake, but researchers also observed veering across lanes and failure to use turn signals,” writes Consumer Reports.

Overall, analysts say that while grandparents might keep kids safer by driving at lower speeds or being less distracted, they’re also less likely to follow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recommendations regarding the use of child seats and seatbelts.

If you’re particularly concerned about your kids’ safety on the road, keep an eye out for our Best Cars for Families Awards, coming in August. These awards will help shoppers find the most family-friendly, safest cars for kids and teens in each class. Meanwhile, you can check out innovative safety features offered by Toyota and Volvo, which can automatically steer or brake to avoid crashes at low speeds. Finally, keep an eye out for crash test scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and NHTSA. These will help you find the car that will be the safest in the event of an accident.

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