Aussie mum's revelation about 'baby on board' car stickers sparks debate: 'I didn't know'

The mum ignited a heated discussion about the popular signs with Aussies confused over their real purpose.

Traffic on the road (left) and Jayde Sandlant in a still from her video (right).
Jayde Sandlant said she had recently learned the true purpose of these commonly seen stickers on our road, sparking debate online. Source: TikTok/@jaydesandlant

If you’ve driven on Australian roads, you’ve probably seen the yellow "baby on board" signs displayed on rear car windows. An Aussie mum sparked debate recently when she revealed what she thought was thier true purpose, however, many quickly pointed out what she suggested was a misconception — so what is their real meaning?

Victorian mum Jayde Sandlant ignited discussion when she posted online, saying she was "today years old" when she found out the true reason for the popular car stickers.

“It’s literally a sticker to inform people if you get into an accident to go to the baby first,” she said. “Is this common knowledge? Because I didn’t know it.”

Many assumed she was suggesting the stickers were useful to first responders, however Sandlant told Yahoo News Australia that she was thinking more of civilian passersby.

"I was having a conversation with my friends when one of them said that the stickers were an indication to inform people that there were children in the car in the event of an accident, I never meant for this to mean first responders," she told Yahoo News.

A TikToker has reopened the common debate as to what the purpose of baby on board stickers is. Photo: NRMA/Getty
A TikToker has reopened the common debate as to what the purpose of baby on board stickers is. Photo: NRMA/Getty

There were some differing opinions in response to TikTok video, which has been debated for many years.

“Apparently it’s not for first responders at all,” one follower commented. “They don’t look for it.”

“False,” another replied to that comment. “It lets first responders know there should be a child located somewhere at the scene of the accident.”

Others suggested that the sticker should be placed on the same side that the child is sitting and that you should also display a sticker with the child’s personal details and medical information.

“I thought it was so people wouldn’t honk and wake the baby,” another commenter wrote. “They were designed to make other drivers aware and be more careful,” someone else said.

“It’s also to tell first responders to go looking for the baby if they don’t see a baby seat in the vehicle,” another quipped. "In case the whole seat was thrown from the vehicle.”

Sandlant said she found the comments "interesting". "There is a lot of mixed feedback on this," she told Yahoo. So what is the real purpose of the stickers?

According to NRMA, the history of these stickers began in the US in the 1980s when former real estate investor Michael Lerner drove with his 18-month-old nephew in the car without accounting for busy traffic and motorists tailgating and cutting him off.

It was after this incident that the stickers were born with the vision of keeping children safe during car trips. However, while many parents in Australia believe 'baby on board' signs are designed for emergency services, NSW Police confirmed that this was not the case.

“The stickers are not for emergency services, but more of a notice to other drivers,” a NSW Police spokesperson said in NRMA article. “Anyone using these signs must ensure they are not obstructing the driver’s view.”

Stills from a Tiny Hearts Education video debunking myths about baby on board stickers.
Tiny Hearts Education shared a video debunking the common myths surrounding baby on board stickers. Photo: Getty/Instagram/Tiny Hearts

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Kidsafe Victoria general manager Jason Chambers explained that baby on board signs were designed to let other road users know that you have a little one in the car with you, and encourage them to use caution when approaching cars with younger passengers.

"Not having a baby on board sign on your car doesn't mean that emergency services won't look to see if a child was involved in a crash,” Chambers said. “They look for any signs that indicate additional people may have been involved, including child car restraints or toys.”

To further settle the hotly debated topic, former paramedic and founder of Tiny Hearts Education — which provides baby, infant and child first aid CPR courses — Nikki Jurcutz explained in an Instagram video that teh emergency services debate was a common myth.

“During my time as a paramedic, I was trained to assess the whole situation,” Jurcutz said. “Paramedics aren’t just relying on a baby on board sign, they are looking for clues that a child may have been in the vehicle, like car seats and baby bags.

“Paramedics will thoroughly check all parts of the car and around the area too. The paramedics on the scene will be there assessing the full picture with or without the baby on board sign on the car.”

She continued to explain that while a lot of people think that these signs were made for first responders and to alert emergency services, it was "actually a myth”.

In saying that, there’s no harm in using one of these stickers – anything that might help drivers be more safe around cars with children is a good thing. But rest assured, if you don't have one, your baby will still be attended to swiftly in the case of an accident. After all, it’s our first responders’ job to do so.

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