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Rear-Window Signs That Say, 'Baby on Board'

November 23, 1985

Three people responded (Letters, Oct. 20) to criticism of "Child in Car" and "Baby on Board" car signs. Only Alice Effendi mentioned using a car seat for her son, and wearing a seat belt. But they all seem to agree that their goal is to deter "tailgaters."

Janet Whitcomb sums it up by stating these are "reminders that fragile cargo, such as babies and small children, are frequently traveling in the cars . . . ".

There are a number of errors in this logic. Frequently there is nobody but the driver in the car. Does the driver deserve special consideration because of parental status? Often cars bearing these signs have small children rattling around unrestrained in the vehicle. Is the sign intended to delegate responsibility for their children's safety to other drivers?

But worst of all is the reference to "fragile cargo." Any pediatrician will tell you that if babies and small children were as fragile as parents believe, the human race would have become extinct long ago. Properly restrained infants and youngsters will survive a collision with far less injury than most of the adult population. And their injuries will heal faster.

If fragility of passengers is justification for rear-window signs, I can suggest quite a few. At the top of the list are the elderly, and women with osteoporosis, followed by persons with weak hearts or a history of high blood pressure, then pregnant women in the final weeks of gestation.

Of course, the incapacitation of the primary breadwinner causes the whole family to suffer, so each should also have a sign. Then there's a whole group of physicians and surgeons, scientists involved in critical research, nurses, veterinarians, engineers, mothers--you name it--who should be exempt from collision injury. Eventually we all would have a little yellow sign in the rear window proclaiming why others should avoid a collision with our car.

What would be gained except a bunch of visual blight to distract others?



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