/ Motoring, Parenting

Baby on board signs – are they obstructing your view?

Baby on board sign in car

They’ve become as common as roof rails or tow bars – those bright yellow ‘baby on board’ signs are a fixture of the modern school run. Yet, a Confused.com survey places doubt on how safe they are.

Are baby on board signs the modern equivalent of a nodding dog on the parcel shelf – tacky and a dangerous obstruction to rear visibility?

According to a new poll by Confused.com, almost two in five parents have displayed a baby on board sign in their car, either now or in the past.

The poll of 2,000 drivers found that 80% of those who use baby on board signs think that they improve safety. But of those who display these signs, apparently 46% don’t remove them when the child isn’t in the car.

Plus, 5% of those surveyed said they’ve been involved in an accident due to stickers or toys in car windows obscuring their view. Perhaps that’s not surprising when 46% in Confused.com’s poll think baby on board signs obscure vision when driving.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of the charity Brake, commented on the survey:

‘Baby on board signs are useful in alerting the emergency services that a child may be involved in the event of a crash. This help can become a hindrance if drivers display signs when their child isn’t in the vehicle. Worse still is the danger that can be posed by drivers obscuring their view by cluttering up windows with lots of signs.’

Clutter obscuring your view?

When these signs first came out, I thought they were intended to change driving behaviour. You know, ‘I’ve got a baby on board, so make sure you don’t crash into me.’ That’s why my initial reaction was to say, ‘so you think I’d be driving unsafely without the sticker in the rear window?’

But speaking with paramedics, I came to realise that these signs do let professionals know if there’s a child in the car in the case of a crash. If, of course, there’s actually a child on board.

So, do you use a baby on board sign? Have you ever felt it’s an obstruction?


I don’t have any babies but as a matter of principle I do not put any signs or stickers on car windows where this could block visibility. I have never displayed more than my VED disk and a parking permit, sited carefully on the windscreen.

If we must put stickers and signs on cars they could be attached to the bodywork, like most GB stickers. ‘Baby on board’ signs don’t just restrict vision for the driver but they make it more difficult for road users to see through a car, which can make driving safer. Strongly tinted rear/side windows cause the same problem, but that’s for another discussion.

I can’t see that the emergency services acting any differently if there was a sign or not. To suggest any differently is devaluing the training that these fine people have undertaken.

The b-o-b signs are pathetic. They belong to the nodding dog, fluffy dice, bumper sticker brigade. Maybe we should all have, ‘How am I driving’ signs with phone number you see on many vehicles.

Less is usually more.

Oops. I forgot the revolting ‘air fresheners’ that seem to smell like a bad dustbin.

Passwithcbs ADI says:
18 October 2012

As a Driving Instructor I spend a lot of time teaching individuals the importance of looking correctly, taking in their environment and keeping themselves and others safe. Putting a huge obstruction in the window and restricting the drivers view in the interest of keeping your child safe sounds about as sensible as giving them a firearm in case a bear attacks! The same goes for air fresheners and other objects hanging from the rear views mirror.
Please find me the drivers that change their style, habits and approach after seeing these Baby on Board signs? The safe ones don’t need to, and the others don’t!
The only benefit is to emergency responders if a collision or incident occurs, and this is negated if the sign is left in when not in use. In fact, this ‘safety sign’ is a flashing light to shout “Vunerable individual” to any prospective car thief or mugger.
If you want to keep your children and loved ones safe on the road, contact a good, local Driving Instructor and get some refresher and defensive driver training. Better awareness, better skills and up-to-date training if worth far more than a sign!
Remember if you are 25-30 your training is potentially 8 years out of date, it was given to you by a person who learnt in the early 1970’s when there were 1/3 as many dangers on the road. So your skills are 40+ years out of date! Modern day trainers are versed in modern day techniques, you will be safer GUARANTEED, which is more than I can say for the Baby on Board signs!

Well, we can agree on the signs not being a good idea, but I’m one of those who you believe are 40 years out of date. If you are acting as an educator, you need to be aware that even if you have a broader knowledge, some people will know more than you do as a result of experience and keeping themselves up-to-date. Learning works both ways. 🙂

We haven’t heard yet from anyone who uses or advocates the “Baby On Board” signs and it would be interesting to read such a response. Personally I am in the opposite corner so I am inclined to support all the comments above.

When these signs first started to appear I thought they were about as useful as those signs that say “if you can read this you are too close”. Just an amusing way of suggesting that drivers leave a bit more space fom the car in front. However, I later realised that there was a much deeper psychological message coming across, along the lines of “my baby is incredibly precious and his/her life is far more valuable than that of anyone else your car might hit or injure” – a proposition that I couldn’t accept. There is no inherent added value in a baby’s life over that of a grown-up person who has been educated and trained and is fulfilling a worthwhile role in society, although I accept that a baby is possibly more vulnerable in a serious collision and might be less likely to survive if flung like a projectile out of a poorly-designed or badly-fitted baby capsule.

Drivers owe it to all citizens to exercise due care and attention at all times; they don’t have to be reminded of their duty by sanctimonious signs in rear windows. So the driver who restricts their own all-round vision by putting a sign in the rear window is really the careless motorist. And sometimes they are not necessarily the most caring or conscientious of parents in their choice of child conveyance or manner of driving.

On the point about alerting the emergency services to the presence of a baby on board, I go along with Dean. The modern capsules are very protective, not inordinately expensive, and exceedingly obvious to anyone looking inside a vehicle that has collided, overturned, or been rammed. Parents who want to advertise their offspring should do as Wavechange suggests at the top of this conversation.

And I first thought the sign was referring to the driver judging from the standard of the driving.

Anything in your windows can reduce visibility including badly placed tax discs or garage ‘ad’ stickers, the better your visibility the safer you can be.
Thinking that the emergency services don’t check for all car occupants in the case of an accident seems ridiculous, leaving the sticker there when there is no child in the car would completely mislead them if they were that unprofessional.
These signs have always been one of my ‘pet hates’, I thought about putting up a ‘Small Person on Board’ sign and crossing out ‘small’. My life is equally as important as anyone else’s and I wouldn’t choose to be less considerate to any other car occupants regardless or age, race or religion.

If ‘baby on board’ signs cause accidents, I wonder how many have been caused by stickers advertising the National Trust, English Heritage and a lot of other respectable charities that have not given any thought to the safety aspect of their stickers.

If you have signs or stickers on your car windows, why not get rid of them now? It could avoid an accident.

Phil says:
19 October 2012

I tried to argue the same point over a missing tax disc but it didn’t get me anywhere.

NT and EH stickers are small, required for free parking at properties and generally displayed on the windscreen; hopefully in a place not swept by the wipers. Baby on board stickers are much larger and generally placed in the rear window.

I know a fair number of otherwise intelligent people who have rear windows with lots of stickers. One is obsessed with safety and regulations to the extent that he carries copies of certain ones around in his briefcase. His back window is surrounded by stickers and the NH one is part of the second row. We all have our weaknesses.

Point taken about the size of the baby on board notice.

Plead/ insist on Contributory Negligence
in RTA.

navigator says:
20 October 2012

hi why stop at baby on board stcikers. why not double glaze and fit curtains!!
Lets face it all thaat glass in a car is there for a reason. Its so that the person driving is aware that the 1 tonne plus potential killing machine , is positioned correctly in the road and they are aware of what is going on all around them.
Why on eatht do you need “baby on board” or “doggies in transit! or !litle princesss” etc if this is necessary them how about “mistress on baord dont tell thewife” or ” death trap- no mot or insurance.”
i rest my case.

Julian says:
21 October 2012

Should “Baby on Board” drivers have a replacement sign for the occasions when the child is not in the car: “No Baby – Feel Free to Drive Recklessly” ?

Those ‘Baby on Board’ signs goes as to the
infantile mentality as ‘not too close, I hardly
know you’. Who gives a damn what precious
cargo may be conveyed AND these
obnoxious stickers should be banned

Exception is made to ‘how’s my Driving?’ and
goes on to give a contact phone number.