Riding with the grandparents: even safer with new AAA classes

When emergency medicine specialist Dr. Fred Henretig, who practices at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, became a grandpa, he found himself feeling a bit nervous on the occasions when he drove with his granddaughter in the car.

Those feelings prompted a new study on just how safe kids are when riding with grandma or grandpa. Studies in the past have shown that car crashes happen

Courtesy City of Winnepeg

more frequently among older drivers over the age of 65.

But the results from Henretig’s study, featured in this month’s issue of Pediatrics, were suprising. Researchers found that a child’s risk for injury was fifty percent lower when riding with the grandparents than with parents.

Today’s grandparents may not be the stereotypical doddering elders of yesterday- and they most likely take their mission very seriously when driving precious cargo. Or perhaps the simple fact that they may be less stressed-out than parents may explain the results.

Yet grandparents still have some room to improve in the safety awareness department. Researchers found that they were slightly less likely to follow safety guidelines for positioning children and their car seats in the vehicle.

Because most grandparents put us all to shame when it comes to planning ahead — it’s a good time to mention AAA’s newest traffic safety program: A Grandparent’s Guide to Child Passenger Safety.

This free 90-minute workshop will reveal the best practices for child safety seats, a hands-on demonstration of a variety of seats, and tips for easy installation.

The first program will be held on Wednesday, August 24, 10:30 a.m.  at AAA Headquarters, 3144 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix.

To sign up for the course, contact AAA’s Traffic Safety Educator at (602) 241-2945 or email publicrelations@arizona.aaa.com.

Meawhile, it never hurts to review recommended safety practices for vehicle safety.

Here are safety seat guidelines from the AAA, followed by a recent RAK video featuring tips from Cardon Children’s Medical Center safety educator Tracey Fejt, R.N. Find out about Cardon’s car seat safety classes.

Under current Arizona law, children may transition from a safety seat to an adult seatbelt at the age of five, giving parents and caregivers outdated and incomplete guidance for child passenger protection.  Arizona is only one of three states without a booster seat law, which protects older child passengers.

AAA has urged legislatures to adopt an improved child passenger safety law, but until that happens, the club encourages parents to adhere to the following child passenger safety tips:

•  Select a car seat that is appropriate for your child’s age and size, that fits your vehicle, and that you will use correctly every time. In March, NHTSA revised its child passenger guidelines to reflect the latest scientific and medical research for child restraint technologies. Parents and caregivers can find those guidelines on this chart.

•  Keep children rear-facing as long as possible. Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics advise parents to use restraints in the rear-facing position for as long as children fit within the maximum height and weight limits set by the car seat’s manufacturer.

Even if a child meets the minimum requirements to advance to the next stage of safety restraint, the rear-facing position is the best position to reduce stress to a child’s fragile neck and spinal cord in the event of a crash.

•  Refer to instruction manuals when installing your car seat. With thousands of combinations of child safety seats and vehicle belt systems, it is important for parents to read both the vehicle owner’s manual and the child safety seat instructions before installing using the seat.

AAA members can also benefit from the aid of a trained car seat technician who can guide them through the installation process.

•  Seat children under the age of 13 in the back seat. While this may not be a popular rule for older children who call “shotgun,” the back seat is the safest place in the vehicle for them. In the most common collision, a head-on crash, a child will be at greater risk of being thrown into the dashboard or through the windshield, or being harmed by objects entering the car.

Additionally, most vehicles are equipped with passenger side air bags, that when deployed, can cause severe head and neck injuries to a child whose body is still developing.

•  Learn the laws before crossing state lines. Child passenger safety requirements vary from state to state, and may be based on age, weight, height, or any combination of those. Parents can use AAA’s interactive state laws map to determine the rules wherever they travel.

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One response to “Riding with the grandparents: even safer with new AAA classes

  1. Pingback: Careful Parenting When Transporting a Child | Parents Needed

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