Grandparents and grandchildren have a special bond. Perhaps it’s because most grandparents have already been in the role of parent and carry this life experience with them. They often tend to be more lenient with grandkids and more forgiving and patient too. As for the grandkids, they often enjoy the company of a grandfather or grandmother simply because they get a lot of one-on-one time.
Unlike parents who are rushed and pressed for time due to the competing interests of work, family, and social activities, grandparents generally have more free time to invest in a grandchild. Simple activities, like baking a batch of cookies or making a kite, can fill both grandparent and grandchild with feelings of warmth, connection, and usefulness.
For those who are grandparents, one thing to consider while enjoying this special bond is the safety of grandkids while they’re in your care—particularly when driving. While everyone knows that buckling up is necessary for passenger safety, sometimes the finer points of car seat and seatbelt safety fall by the wayside.
Consider the results of a recent clinical trial conducted at the Riley Hospital for Children in Indiana. There, researchers looked at how grandparents and parents compared when it came to child safety in the car. Grandparents were solicited for their opinions on car safety seats and transporting grandkids safely.
This study was fairly comprehensive and looked at 1,758 parents transporting 2,713 children; and 284 grandparents transporting 391 grandchildren. The research team found some issues when looking at child passenger safety. It wasn’t that child seats or seatbelts were ignored, but rather there were errors in the way these two safety devices were used. According to the researchers, one quarter of the parents and grandparents chose an incorrect seat to transport a child. As for attaching the car seat to the back seat, a whopping 68% made errors in attaching and tightening harnesses and straps.
Grandparents in particular had a tendency to have looser lower anchor straps or seat belts. Grandparents were also guilty of having children younger than thirteen years in the front seat.
Why did the researchers find these results when most grandparents are probably careful and protective around their grandkids? It all has to do with aging. Many grandparents suffer from arthritis and back pain. This can make it difficult to position car seats correctly and to tighten straps. Many also have mobility issues and getting a child in and out of a car seat located in the back of a vehicle can be a challenge. Combine these problems with diminished strength and suddenly a child is not secured. The last piece of the puzzle is vision problems. Difficulty reading small print can prevent a grandparent from reading safety guidelines and following manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to car seat set-up.
The researchers suggest that grandparents should be able to visit “permanent fitting stations,” which are open year-round. By accessing this help, grandparents could improve a grandchild’s travel safety further down the road.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
O’Neil, J., et al., “Grandparents and child passenger safety,” Accid Anal Prev. November 2012; 49: 354-9.
Henretig, F.M., “Grandparents Driving Grandchildren: An Evaluation of Child Passenger Safety and Injuries,” Pediatrics. July 18, 2011.