What does a ‘Baby on Board’ sign mean?

Image: via Shutterstock

If you live in the suburbs, there’s a good chance that every second car you see will have the instantly-recognisable ‘BoB’ (Baby on Board) sign in the rear window. If you aren’t a parent, you may wonder, is it just a proud parent wanting to advertise the presence of a human in nappies, but there are other valid reasons for marking a vehicle as a baby carrier:
  • The original intention of the sign is to “encourage safe driving”. Presumably, fellow road users will exercise additional caution around a motoring mom or dad.
  • While supposedly an urban legend, the next reason makes a lot of sense: If the car with a baby or small child inside is in an accident, rescuers will know to look for the baby in the wreckage. Of course, the presence of a baby seat should indicate the same, but road users are fickle- some would happily place the BoB sign in their window, but not use a purpose-built baby seat.
  • The urban legend comes from this story which surfaced on the internet in 2002: "Some years ago, there was a car crash in Canada. The police located adult and child family members trapped in the crashed car, rescued them and sent them to hospital to recover. The car was towed to an impounding yard, and the following day the police discovered a baby's body, frozen to death but otherwise uninjured under one of the seats."
  • The US has recently introduced a similar sign to indicate the presence of an autistic child who, in the event of an accident, may not respond typically to medical rescue personnel.
  • Need to use the Moms ‘n Tots parking bay at the mall? Your sign will ensure that any security guards checking on the presence of a baby in the vicinity will be appeased…

BoB signs "responsible for 1 in 20 accidents"

A quick search on the internet showed that drivers appear to get annoyed with BoB sign fanatics. The common complaint is that these parents shouldn’t need a sign to tell people to drive safely, the rules of the road do that already.

A recent study in the UK polled 2 000 drivers and found that 46% of parents displayed the sticker whether the kid was in the car or not, and that the stickers were allegedly directly responsible for one in 20 road accidents, prompting a road safety specialist to remark that the signs or stickers should not be displayed in a way that obscures the vision of the driver.

Also in the UK, in 2005, BoB stickers were issued to pregnant commuters to help them access seats on trains and buses.

The signs have also spawned various joke signs, too: “Warning, baby is closer than it appears” being one.

Do you have a Baby on Board sign?

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