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.

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:


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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.

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