What those 'Baby on Board' signs are really for

Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK Photo: file image

Think those signs alert emergency services in case of an accident? Think again.

Despite  what some parents believed, Baby on Board signs did not serve to alert first responders in case of emergency.

Although it has been suggested that the signs were beneficial in the case of an emergency, as they alerted staff a child was in the vehicle, Australian police recently confirmed the signs served a different purpose.

"The sign is not for emergency services, but more of a notice to other drivers. Anyone using these signs must ensure they are not obstructing the driver's view," a spokesperson for NSW Police told the NRMA.

According to Child Safety Products manufacturer Safety1st, the idea behind the Baby on Board sign was to "encourage drivers to use caution when approaching cars with younger passengers".

Mark Stockdale, principle regulations advisor for the New Zealand's AA, said he was not sure the baby on board signs had an official purpose, and that he thought they were really just like bumper stickers. 

"Some people might be using them for what they perceive to be a serious purpose, but it's not an official sign," he said.

He also noted that they're not in the same class as L Plates, which are official signs that the road code states have to be displayed on the vehicles of learner drivers.

"Baby on board signs are optional and if you ask motorists what they mean, I think you'll get different answers."


He also cautioned that the signs can affect rear vision and should be placed in the bottom corner of the rear window.

A popular Facebook post explains the "meaning" behind the signs, after a mother from Washington became frustrated that people labelled the signs as 'annoying'. 

"So I learned something new today! And in case you didn't know the true purpose of these signs.....no you're not supposed to "Drive Slower" around these people. No you're not supposed to worship them, or tread lightly around them because they have a baby..... Baby on board signs alert first responders that there is a person in the vehicle that is incapable of unbuckling themselves in the event of an accident," she wrote.

"Do the EMTs need to look for a body that was possibly expelled from the vehicle? The signs aren't "annoying."

The post has been liked over 20,000 times and shared almost 40,000 times, despite there being no evidence to back up the claim.

Baby on Board signs and stickers have previously been criticised as being a distraction in their own right, as they could obscure a driver's vision.

Former real estate investor Michael Lerner first came up with the idea for the signs in 1984 during a car trip on the motorway with his nephew who was a toddler. 

"People were tailgating me and cutting me off," he told the Wall Street Journal. "For the first time, I felt like a parent feels when they have a kid in the car."

Only a month after launching the signs on the market, his company was selling 500,000 signs per month.

 - Stuff