"Baby On Board" Sign Origin Myth Debunked

"Baby on Board" signs are one of the first things that new parents buy. After all, traveling with a baby in the car can be pretty daunting for a number of reasons - and we're not just talking about poopy nappies here. Depending on who you talk to, you'll get a different version of exactly where people think they came from. One popular myth is that after a horrible car accident, a woman was pulled from the wreckage of her car, unconscious. As she was the only immediately noticeable passenger, it wasn't until much later that authorities discovered the body of a baby underneath the front passenger side-dash.

Via Amazon.co.uk


According to this myth, someone then came up with the idea of a "Baby on Board" sign to alert rescuers that there is likely to be another passenger in the car in the event of an accident. While the story is truly gruesome and terrible, it's actually an urban myth and not why the sign became popular at all - although it probably is useful for that, too. It's intended use is much simpler.

In 1984, a real-estate investor from Massachusetts, Michael Lerner, was looking after his 18-month-old nephew. When it came to driving the tot home, Lerner realized for the first time how many people were driving recklessly on the roads around him, running the risk of causing an accident. As Michael was going a little slower to ensure that he was driving safely, other drivers were dangerously overtaking him. Now knowing what it must be like for parents driving their children on a daily basis, he decided to market a sign that would let other drivers know that they should take care around cars containing children.

Two women had already come up with the idea, Patricia and Helen Bradley. After seeing a version of a safety sign across the pond in Europe, they had tried to market it in the US, but it never really took off. Michael bought the rights from the sisters and launched Safety 1st. His business acumen and retail contacts saw the product reach an unprecedented amount of sales, hitting 10,000 in the first month. Within nine months he was selling 500,000 signs per month.

There you have it. Whatever the reason, these signs will remain a family car staple for years to come.


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