Can we stop the loud-beep on backing up?

One of the scourages of urban areas is the requirement (I presume) that heavy equipment make a loud beeping noise when it’s backing up. It’s meant to warn anybody standing behind the vehicle, presumably because the driver doesn’t have the same field of vision to see you, and because people are more wary of standing in front of a moving vehicle than behind it.

As such, as we all know, the sound is really piercing. And more to the point, it travels, often for miles. It’s a major noise pollution anywhere near any work site. I presume part of the problem as well is workers wearing hearing protection need it even louder.

So my challege is, can we do a better job? Can we make an attention getting sound that is more directional (aimed backwards, and perhaps down from the top of the vehicle) so it won’t travel as far or distract people not behind the machine?

Can we standardize rear-view cameras, which are so cheap now, so that the operator’s view of what’s behind is top notch?

Can we combine a quieter sound with really bright, moving lights, the kind you would see on the ground if your back were to the beeping machine? Could we blow air with high pressure streams or those long-distance vortexes like the AirZooka makes, or would this be too much of a problem with dust (or in wind?)

Can we have object detectors that spot objects in to the rear of the machine and make the beeps louder when there is something? (Admittedly they are going to go off for a wall or wheelbarrow as much as a guy, and they have to be really reliable because people would start depending on them to know how much caution to use.) Perhaps they can detect that everything they have seen has left the area and reduce the beeping, because if there is one person behind the truck, that assures you somebody is watching and will move anybody who doesn’t see the lights or hear the beeping.

I solicit other ideas to safely warn people about moving equipment that don’t ruin the peace.

Update: I received information from a firm called Brigade which claims to have an answer. They use white-noise alarms. They claim they are easier for us to echolocate than less natural pure-tone sounds, and I agree that they disperse into the environment more quickly so they won’t travel. The piercing alarm has been chosen in the past as it is un-natural and thus stands out more from background, but that means it travels further. Natural sounds fade from notice more quickly but possibly are just as recognizable close up.

Cal-OSHA - Part of the Problem?

Cal-OSHA is part of the problem! Companies that operate across the US tend to adopt the toughest state regulations to ensure trans-US compliance. For some construction vehicles Cal-OSHA requires backup alarms to be audible at 200’ in all directions! When Cal-OSHA was requested to define the function of backup alarm their response was to quote the regulation! They fail to understand regulations should be designed to ensure safety devices are fit for function and so cannot be quoted to define the function. So what is the function? Suggestion; “a backup alarm is to alert a person at risk of not being seen by the driver and also at risk from being struck by a backing truck.”

Most construction trucks back at less than 4MPH (6’ per second) so it would take them well over ½ a minute to back the 200’ required by Cal-OSHA … and what is the risk to a person standing in front of the truck both in full view of the driver and located in the opposite direction of travel? By making the backup alarm so loud and heard all over the place it becomes associated with a meaningless false alarm and increases the chance of it being ignored when it needs to be heard.

Cal-OSHA would be wise to heed Socrates; “prescription without diagnosis is malpractice”.

Brigade’s BBS-tek / White Sound / Broadband backup alarms, mentioned in the blog, are now options with many OEMs including Caterpillar, Crown fork trucks, JCB and are increasingly being specified by cities and companies to eliminate noise and / or improve safety.

this is the dumbest system

this is the dumbest system ever implemented. so you have a really big truck, that makes a lot of engine noise, that will reverse at 3mph and thats not enough? no, of course not, lets add some really loud beep at 90db that will go through everybody ears around the neighborhood just in case.

Trying to be considerate of my neighbors

I use my skid steer on my own propery, located 1/4 mile off the nearest road, with nobody else on the property. I'd rather not annoy adjoining property owners by the backup alarm when I'm using the skid steer. In my use of the machine on my own property, I don't see that the penetrating beep-beep-beep serves any useful purpose. I'm working on figuring out how to disconnect the plug on the damned alarm, would prefer not to have to resort to wire cutters on a brand new machine.


Each beep of these infernal machines is an indicator that our leaders are lazy uncaring morons. This is a no brainer to legislate for an alternate solution if you give a toss about humanity. Hydraulic lifts make this ridiculous noise too.

We should make a push for

We should make a push for the Government to do away with those current back-up alarms, in favor of those 'White Noise' ones that somebody previously mentioned. The are safer, more localized, and go out 50ft, instead of 200ft. This is the way to go.

Right now I am actually wearing headphones--the kind lumberjacks wear, since there are workers across the street going sh#thouse with all that construction equipment!! Those bastards are RELENTLESS!!!!

I feel like going over their

I feel like going over their with a sledgehammer, anytime I hear that godforsaken beep-beep-beep!! and smashing their hood to smithereens!! I'm positive I'd go to jail for it, but it would feel oh-so-good for about 5 seconds lol

their=there. Those backup

their=there. Those backup alarms are now affecting my grammar!! :P

Whoever invented the back up

Whoever invented the back up alarm should be shot! It is another example of some idiot lawmaker(s) with too much time on their hands. I live in the middle of a big city and not only do we have to put up with them during the day, but because we have idiots running the city we have to hear them all night as well. Every night I have to listen to the beeping until 3 - 5 am because the city keeps allowing middle of the night construction work! And the weather is such right now that it is still too warm to close the windows. I am so looking forward to the freezing cold weather hopefully getting these dopes off the streets during the late night hours.

Ban the beeper

This is obviously something that bothers communities around the world and I'm keen to see this conversation be much louder. The more places we talk about this the better so please 'like' the 'Ban the beeper' page ( and share your experiences and research.

Back up beeper law suit

I live in Saratoga Springs, New York. I just filed a lawsuit in small claims court. For excessive noise where I sued the contractor, subcontractor and owner of a project of $15,000,000 I got one of the broadband beepers and will get one of the 112dBA beepers as well as a self regulating beeper for the trial. We could use some world wide coverage.

Martin Mittelmark

Isn't there a switch?

Isn't there a switch? Specifically, isn't there a shut-off switch for these back-up alarms? I could've sworn that most vehicles had a toggle switch on the dashboard to turn this alarm off, if need be?...

Call DOT and complain

I sent an email to the DOL:

Can you please direct me to someone who oversees the regulations for backup truck beepers? All I hear all day in Boston at work is beep beep beep.
At home, a development 1/3 of a mile away is beeping all day from 7am to 8pm, 7 days a week. I understand the presumed need for perceived safety but there is a better way with broadband warning devices instead of high pitched monotones that carry for miles.
This is becoming a major nuisance and a health concern as it is causing people stress and far outweighs the tiny possibility of running over someone. It is an example of a well meaning regulation run out of control.
I understand this might look like a trivial concern but it is a cumulative stress factor and constant annoyance for many people. The other day, a UPS truck called to our house and while the vehicle is stopped with the engine running, it now has to beep all the time. This is crazy!
Thanks you for your time.
my name MS, BA, BEng


Answer from OSHA US Dept. of Labor:

There may be procedures in place to handle concerns from the public about the frequency of these audible signals, especially when they are causing adverse consequences. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) of DOT may have further information to address your concerns or direct you to the appropriate agency or office within DOT to help. The contact information for FHWA is as follows:
Operations Office Hours
Operating hours are from 7:45 am ? 4:15 pm Monday through Friday.

Toll-Free "Help Line" (866) 367-7487

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway
Office of Operations (HOP)
Mail Stop: E86-205
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Thank you!

Thank you for the info. on this last comment! I will call DOT and complain and I will also write to my legislator and the U.S. Dept. of Transportation.

Same here...

... not just the USA. But over here in Europe we also have these ridiculous, mind-numbing things.

Every time a tractor or a truck reverses, BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP, we ALL have to listen to it. Even if we live like a few miles away.

Surely to God there must be some way of getting these awful things toned down? Banned? Something????

I drive an electric tow

I drive an electric tow motor. I work indoors. This noise is pure madness. With many trucks operating at the same time the sound increases to full volume. These noisemakers have microphones and try to overpower any noise they encounter. It's not remarkable that I am backing up because that"s what I am doing half the time. I wear earplugs and earmuffs. They do not help. It"s so loud.

A national Petition:


Sign & share.

Happy Holidays!

Are there any statistics?

Someone has somehow installed this unnecessary backup beeper regulation.

Why? Are there any statistics that proof the necessity of this noise pollution? Are there really less injuries from trucks since the installation of the beepers?

This is a serious question!

If there are no statistics showing that this noise polluting device was installed for rescuing people and especially kids, then most probably there was only a company lobbying it's commercial interest in selling more useless devices.

Why we're they able to change the law then?

In my opinion only two reasons are possible: Stupidity or corruption!

If somebody gets ran over by

If somebody gets ran over by an truck or commercial vehicle backing up , its their own fault , I call that natural selection, back up alarms just piss people right off, they should be banned.

50 kids a week backed up over by regular cars

50 kids a week backed up over by regular cars, but cars don't beep. so, we care about construction workers, but not kids?
why don't cars have to beep when backing up?!!?

High pitched noise beeping systems

The elderly in particular use a cat-deterrent in their garden. It is a
small apparatus with a speaker attached to it. It produces a
high-pitched bleep of more than a 100 decibel. The sound is mostly
only audible for children, youngsters and people with ears that are
still good. Many cat-deterrents use the same noise as the Mosquito.
The sound causes pain in the ears, headache, and ringing in the ears.
If you have any complaints consult your GP and make mention of it on
social media!
Working Mosquito: 17KHz-20KHz 90dB
Working Cat Deterrent/Animal Chaser: 16KHz-23KHz 130dB

Stop loud beep backing

I haven't managed to read all the comments, but I just wanted so say that the use of reversing alarms is NOT a legal requirement. I have managed to get a local store to stop using theirs.

Backing up mechanisms

I'm just seeing this blog now after many years from the time it was written but I want to thank the blogger. Misery loves company and for years I thought I was losing my mind because of this blasted beep beep from vehicles backing up. It's great to see that I'm not the only want that thinks this is a huge problem. Eight years ago I moved into a community. It was quiet and peaceful. Then the local water company (about a mile away) behind my house expanded and they brought huge trucks in to move dirt. Those trucks work day and night and the back-up noise from those vehicles is ear piercing. Even with windows closed, the noise penetrates into our home. Ear plugs do not work. I called the water company to complain. The Operations Manager did come over but had the nerve to say "we [the water company] were here first]. Then when I pleaded with him to see if they could look to deactivate the mechanism since they were in a totally fenced in area where children cannot walk behind the vehicles, he said "the noise is within acceptable levels" according to some BS government standards. The noise is so disturbing it is impacting our quality of life and we may have to move because of it. Thank you to the blogger and the other supporting comments. Maybe we can all work together to solve this.

Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep

Hey - I live next to a senior center and they start those horrible things at 5:30 in the morning. I hear them as I wake up and they ring in my ears all day. It is literally driving me to distraction. There has to be a better way to protect whatever it is they're trying to protect at 5:30 am. What kind of sociopath would inflict these things on anyone in a residential area?

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