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](" rel="nofollow). 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.


It does not supprise me that you want to do away with safty features like the beeping on backing up vehicles. You simply do not care about morals, children, and society in general.

Your website should be shut down for having pornogrophy, and the usage of the word "Tits" in "Criticial Tits". This is general indecency and you should be arrested and put in jail for exposing children to this pornographic material, especially since some of your material on your site violates House Bill #2257

Hmm, I fail to see how I violate the Medicare Osteoporosis Measurement Act of 2005.

You Sir, are one of the idiots contributing to problems in this world.

I'm responding to this poster, criticizing your creative effort
to create a win-win safety solution.

All I can say is "Huh?

This blog poster is doing a great job offering up some
safe alternatives to a vexxing problem for many people that
have a need for sleep.

Kudo's to the blog owner for trying to DO something about this problem.

There is no need for harsh criticism and crazy assumptions.

As every 4 year old knows "beep .... Beep" is the sound of a backing truck, somewhere in the neighbor hood. Strange really because it is supposed to be an emergency warning but because we hear them every day it is a noise ignored, not a warning.

Broadband back up alarms are heard in the backing zone, where they need to be heard, so not ignored. Standard in parts of the world, on the Pentagon's fork trucks & Walmart's subsidiary in the UK! Why is it such a closely guarded secrete for the safety and peace benefit of a few?

Clever really, safer & no noise pollution.


Yes, I agree, this is noise pollution and we need a better solution to safety.

I have no less than a dozen garbage trucks going in and out of my small street during the week, and I work at home. The noise is unbelievable. Every one of these trucks needs to back out of the streets and it takes each one minutes to do so.

I'll also venture that if you have no awareness about the presence of a slow moving truck that's larger than many homes, a 100 decibel noise will do little to solve that problem.

Are you living on Perego Terrace in San Francisco?

Your the only one making the connection between porn in this article and kids....i think you have some deep issues here. This guy has a great point and is talking about the options. This safety thing is often overexposed and used as a position of power.

The person commenting as "Anonymous" is clearly brain damaged or a liberal tort attorney. If a person can't hear aKohler diesel engine then replace the beep with train horns. Anonymous has NO BALLS and uses our tax dollars for welfare. Clearly Anonymous invoking children is a cover for his job flinging douche out of plastic receptacles.

Wow what a nutcase. Don't you have a Starbucks cup to complain about? These beeps that are as loud as an LRAD, and can permiate every dwelling withing a 2 mile radius are ovekill... not to mention construction workers just tune them out anyway. Nobody gives a shit about your kid except you. Don't want him to get hit by a truck? Then tell your little brat not to play in traffic.

I am total agreement with Brad on this issue as is the University of NSW who published a paper on both the annoyance and total ineffectiveness of these warning beepers.
" part quote ’Beeper‘ alarms frequently cause annoyance for the community surrounding construction sites' They go on to discuss alternatives such as uninrusive reversing cameras modified tonal and visual systems that dont emminate past the immediate vicinity.
In fact it is a Global pandemic and I for one cannot believe the morons who initiated, install, use or support these useless yet incredibly annoying devices.

The noise actually makes me extremely agitated to the point of wanting to inflict violence on the perpetrators.

And to this clown who so vehemently objects to Brad bringing up the issue. I would bet you are one of the mindless drones who operate such machinery and likely the one (of the many) who either have noise canceling headsets on or getto blasters turned up full or load earphone music devices.

This comment is ten years old and I just happened to come across it because it was posted on a site dealing beeper alarms on trucks and heavy machinery (why I don't know) but I went and looked at the pictures on the critical tits web page. all I can say sir or ma'am which ever the case may be is I hope you are either dead or disabled from being able too vote the next time elections roll around there's enough morons in the voting booth as it is.

"Caring about children"

One: It is the responsibility of the parent to keep an eye on their children.

Two: Children have mobile/cell phones now, clearly a bad idea. Any parent allowing a child internet access is wrong to begin with. Online pornography is not an issue. Allowing children internet access is the issue.

Three: We coped perfectly fine around vehicles a few decades back.

We all seem to have this 'wrap us in cotton wool' mind-set when it comes to society. We should all toughen up. learn how to say "NO!" To the demands of children. We should all take responsibility and not leave everything to the health and safety brigade to shield companies from over sensitive prats who use the "sue" button all too often. Common sense rules the day here. Unless you are blind and do not have a guide dog or carer, then yes. A beeping vehicle is maybe a good idea when it comes to reversing. I have heard some vehicles talk and say; "Caution! Vehicle TURNING!" But it sounds more like; "Mmmphhh, merr nerr, merr, nerrrr, nerrrr." Complete jibberish.

You used a bad flow of logic there, Buddy! What does hating loud beeping noises have to do with children? Only one solution per problem in your world, Aye!? haha That's idiotic.


You're a fool.

OMG, talk about trying to solve a problem where none exists.

Maybe you should close your windows? Most construction noise is
transitory anyway -- eventually the job is finished and the heavy
equipment is moved somewhere else.

While I'll admit the beeping requirement is largely a CYA measure,
your proposals make little sense. Cameras? "Object sensors?"
(Would have to be optical or radar.) Your proposals are at least
a couple of orders of magnitude more expensive and more complicated
then a simple beeper wired into the backup lights. And when they
fail -- and they will -- then there is a liability issue as well.

Your musings on this illustrate the worst about people who think
every problem or issue can be solved with technology.

Oh I fel your pain. Fortunately for you, the constrution will come to and end eventually. I, on the other hand, am in backup beeper hell! Well, not eternal, just signed a lease in a much quieter part of town...or so I hope. My current apartment is located on a main street in a suburban neighborhood in Westhester County, NY. One of the "perks" of this appartment (or so I thought) was the half a block commute to work & the bagel shop next door. My beeps start anywhere from 2-4am, 7 days a week. I get 2-3 newspaper trucks, dairy trucks, flour delivery trucks, and good ole Boarshead (who out-beeps all the others). It goes on everyday until I'm out the door for work at about 7:45.
Two more weeks before the move. I pray I'll make it. Oh, and it snowed today so every idiot with a plow & beeper will assure me a bookend-beeper night's sleep

I live on the west side of McCombs street in El Paso, TX and the east side of McCombs street is a commercial area that houses a recycling center. In May of 2010 they decided to have 24 hour operation and now the residential neighborhood for miles and miles and miles and miles around gets to listen to the loud, obnoxious beeping sound emitting from the forklifts and trucks of the heavy machinery now operating twenty-four hours a day. No one can sleep and we all have to get up every morning and drive through the streets of the town with two to three hours of sleep if we are lucky. I have been sleep deprived for three months now. There is no end in sight as this is a commercial operation and not a construction site.
You can say not having the beeping sound is dangerous to children but having hundreds of sleep deprived people driving to and from work every day from a neighborhood that is been quiet and peaceful for forty years until Frederick Recyling decided to have their loud machinery disturbing the peace day and night is much more dangerous to the public at large.

Contact Brigade Electronics in PA and get information from them to give to the recycling center. Many big companies such as this are now using Brigade's BBS back up alarms and alleviate the annoyance from standard beeping alarms!

Yes I agree. Noise polution makes peoples mental health, their ability to enjoy life impossible with all the noise.
Increased suicide or anger in city from the noise.
People have to be warned of a backing up truck but we have the technology to make a directional beep-sound and a more pleasant one, that will not travel for miles.
If you can`t get away from the beeping , what do you do?

Ack!!! HERE, TOO. I work from home and it's ALL DAY LONG. This is what they do to political prisoners to torture them. I hear it in my sleep now. The construction will go for YEARS. How can I live this way? I'm really losing it.

Yes I agree with Atlantic.

I understand the safety issue, but why does the blasted thing have to be loud enogh for a deaf person to hear it from 3 blocks away?

I live almost a mile away from the town transfer station. Which years ago was was smaller and not so busy. NOW I hear BEEPING from 4:00am in the morning almost all day. I feel like I am going crazy! This is beyond acceptable. Whoever invented this and obviously became RICH since every where in the U.S. has them installed. WE as citizens need to unite and create a court order LAW to stop the mental abuse it is causing.
The beeping in my area is almost non stop!

Why Thank You ATLANTIC! DITTO! A-Holes are building an apartment complex across from my once peaceful home, in a toxic brown area where they used to make lead based paints...They'll soon be unearthing toxic crap and spreading it through the air and beepers will be everywhere. The city is full of empty lots but we got lucky and the builders don't give a damn as long as there's a profit to be made. As they're digging now, weather permitting, All I Hear is Beeping. I Want to Kill Them. There is no peace to be found.
I once worked in a factory where a "fire gong" paging system rang in rhythm according to id. numbers of those being pages. No one ever answered the pages. I know because I activated them in an office there for a while. Various "number patterns" rang all day, full blast. I finally quit my job because I could no longer stand listening to it and it made me very sick. Many workers there suffered because of it and it caused a lot of mistakes on the job. The workers were like zombies moving in rhythm to it and not really paying attention... People there drank a lot and did drugs on the job to cope with the noise related stress.
These beeping machines are like PTSD for me. I'd like to put the beeper creator in that factory and leave him there with the paging gong...That Would Fix Him. And I wish I could find another place to live because listening to construction beeping for a year+ will be extra hell for me...

You just described every morning I've had for the last 6 months.

This poster doesn't speak for me...and may think twice before
making sweeping generalizations.

As a point of truth, this problem is an ENORMOUS problem in many areas, for those
who have the need to ever sleep.

I applaud the blogger for taking a look at this issue and offering up some
neat ideas....!

As for this poster -- speak just for yourself.

Many of us found this blog because we are tired of being kept awake all night long, night after night --

First we have the beepers going on all night...
and all spring, summer and fall we have the leaf blowers,
chain saws and mowers...

I'm moving for this reason, but it isn't like there is much quiet in any "manicured" area....

I live in a small town where there is industrial shit everywhere. Kids are no where near the industrial shit. Things like garbage trucks or school buses, the beeping makes sense. The industrial shit, the beeping makes no sense. I've live near the evil PG&E for years and I still can not get used to the beeping. I actually wish they would get run over. They are a bunch of lazy fat white assholes. The beeping should be disabled when they are in their yard. I have never seen a kid near that place or any other construction site. They do not belong there anyway. I can tell you why that stupid beeping started, we live in a society which believes in the survival of the dumbest, slowest, and fattest, not the fittest, smartest, and quickest. We are overpopulated!! Yes, I said the one word no one will admit, Overpopulation (of the dumbest). Idiocracy is here, rent the movie(Idiocracy) to see where we are headed!!!!!

If only the driver looked where he was going instead of relaying beeper technology
Here the link
"Upon inspection by OSHA investigators, the back-up beeper of the payloader was not operational following the incident. Later that day when the payloader was checked again, the back-up beeper was operating at a louder than normal level. The business manager stated that the back-up beeper had been working prior to the incident although it is not known whether it was working immediately before the fatal accident occurred. It is possible that the back-up beeper was damaged during the collision since it was located in the rear grille cover which was the general area of impact. The company subsequently replaced the back-up beeper."
After the accident did the driver disconnect the beeper? Then finding out he would be in more trouble if the beeper was not working and reconnected it?
The back-up beeper was operating at a louder than normal level. What is the normal level? 117db? Threshold of pain is 130db. If you read the link you know the victim had worked there for 5 years and had been ill for 2 1/2 months. Did the louder than normal level make him sick?
Who checks the beeper to make sure is not louder normal level? The military has sonic weapon of 150db. They think it works. It is called THOR.
If the beeper is driving you out of your mind. Go to the hospital and report it as an OSHA incident. By law OSHA must investigate. Don't be calm really let them know how you feel.

What another who doesnt think its a problem? Transitory try everyday including saturdays for the last 2 years all around us in a Melb suburb.
Every mug and his construction dog has a reversing beeper it seems. I reckon they would install them on hammers if they could.
To add utter insult to injury these people cover their own ears with headsets yet seem to go out of their way to crank up their car, truck, site radios to full blast as well.

Ok then Mr Sheesh solve the problem without the inneffective technology ie remove the beepers. They are after all the issue installed by people who use tech for everything, even to replace commonsense. sheeesh indeed

There are none so blind as they who WILL not see. (Mac Davis)

Some of these sounding devices will eventually go away. True but what, a year, two years, five years from the time they start. What about those of us who live in places where the sounders oppressive beeping NEVER goes away and never will. Some of the comments on this page have been posted by people not to directly effected by these rude impingent and very rarely effective sound devices. why, if these devices are so effective, is your car and every car on the road not equipped with these sounders operating at the same sound level as heavy machinery hmmm? Because you can take the number of fatalities caused by heavy machinery and times it by ... are you ready for this... one f'ing THOUSAND which represents the number of fatalities caused by the holy, sacred, and ever above reproach family car.

Now to address another point in your poorly written comment "a couple of orders of magnitude more expensive"; what ever an order of magnitude is, who the hell cares what the cost of these less intrusive measures are? What exactly do YOU care about what a change in measures to accomplish safety, costs? is the money coming out of YOUR pocket? And if it is so what. If you are someone who owns and operates machinery utilizing these sounding devices you should have a good long look at yourself because you put thousands of people unconnected to your concerns in an environment of chronic suffering to save you a few filthy dollars. And by the way your musings, if I may make so broad a statement, show little more than your half baked attempt at literacy.

The Prius actually has this same beeping while in reverse - but one can only hear it in the car. It's not piercing, but I'm not sure it serves any real point either.

I don't get the earlier comment: "You simply do not care about morals, children, and society in general." - why do disagreements suddenly become moral issues? please. Does this person actually think a child would think oh - a truck is backing up so I should feel that the driver is serving the morals of this country? If one is in an urban environment where this annoying sound is one of many sounds, does one actually believe that everyone is going to filter this sound and move out of the way of a truck going in reverse? Do pedestrians actually stop walking in the crosswalks when they're not supposed to? No. Perhaps a flashing bumper light might help, but not really if we overuse lights Vegas-style. It just gets filtered out. Too much is just too much.

Someone has an idea so you decide to send rude and irrelevant comments his way?! What is wrong with you? Oh my, he uses the word "tit." Why don't you get laid and maybe hearing the word tit would not be such a big deal... So did this site pop up onto your screen and then somehow force you to read the content and view the graphics? I am guessing you came to the site, read the content, viewed the graphics, and then decided that everyone should conform to your "moral standards." The internet should be open to all types of information. As long as no one is "seriously hurt" by the content. For example, child pornography. That would be scarring for a child. But I "think" we are all adults, so the word "tit" shoulf honestly be the least of anyones concerns. If you do not like what he is saying or displaying on the site, leave and go on with your morally appropriate day.

The (British) Noise Abatement Society has suggested using broadband noise alarms rather than the more piercing single-tone beeps that carry for miles. This would improve the quality of life for people (like mself) who live near a building site where the beeping continues twelve hours a day, six days a week. This solution doesn't compromise safety, in fact it probably improves it since the noise is highly directional.
It's sad there are a lot of nutters writing about tits on this page. I love tits and have many in my garden.

I, too, detest those beeping vehicles. How does any work get done if the trucks are in reverse all the time? I grit my teeth day in and day out. I not only live adjacent to a construction site, but also to a huge building with a loading dock that takes deliveries all day long. So even when the construction is done, I will still be tormented. What can be done about it?

Maybe I have sensitive hearing, but this is a big problem for me going back over 20 years.
Right now, there is a construction project going on 2000 feet from my apartment, and I can hear the beeping right through my closed windows with the blinds or curtain drawn, depending on which window.
When I am visiting my parents in New York City, I can hear the beeping noise as trucks back up some 4 blocks away. I've looked out the window and scanned for the source of the noise, and that's what I've found.

As an attorney, the way I would approach this is that I would try to generate a campaign and get the attention of a governor or attorney general. Such a person could get political capital out of resolving this situation.

A governor might indicate that s/he wants to hand out engineering grants so bright engineering minds can come up with alternative solutions.

An attorney general would probably file a public nuissance lawsuit, and then try to negotiate a settlement whereby industry agrees to put some bright minds on this, and then when a solution is found, to build it into new vehicles and machinery, and to retrofit the existing stock by a particular date.

I just wrote a letter to the attorney general of Virginia and I'll write another to the governor.

Brad- contact me if you want to cooperate on this.

I am a mom in the Portland, Oregon area and I am happy to do anything I can to find a solution to the noise pollution - especially in construction sites where the construction vehicles are not backing up onto roads with traffic or pedestrians. Feel free to contact me through email. Thanks!

Even though city officials can't really do much of anything to silence the beep they are the folks I am working with at the present to move this issue a little further to the front burner at higher levels. I live in a place where the sound drills as I call them are in a fixed location in a residential neighborhood and within a city limit. A salvage yard that exists where it is because of lack of foresight of previous city planners. None the less my situation one commenter stated the problem as a global pandemic. I argue that this equipment is no less a health hazard than second hand smoke, leaded gasoline, and drunk driving with arguments to support the parallels all of these share with the beep. I wish to join the think tank in an effort to make things better for everyone.

I am Kay Bull on facebook and am from Bloomington IN

I agree; this is a huge source of noise pollution, and very annoying. I wonder how the construction workers tolerate it. Maybe they just learn to block it, which sort of defeats the purpose. There's got to be a better way of addressing safety concerns.

Since moving into our house a year ago, a new subdivision went in down the street, then the next door neighbor decided to teach himself how to use a back-hoe in his yard (8 AM New Years Day, no less!), and now, as I type this, the developers down the street have figured out how to squeeze one more house into that sub, so the heavy equipment is back, backing and filling, backing and filling... I can't hear the engines, or pounding, or other work-site sounds -- but the beeping carries for miles through the frosty New England morning air...

Glad to hear the Brits are looking at alternatives; maybe our American legislators will take notice (we can hope...)

No problem eh? Get a life, you say? What are some of you folks, lobbyists for the beeper industry? Just wait until somebody builds a monstrous ugly building right next door to you, where they start every morning at 7am (and sometimes earlier), the beeping goes on for two straight years, and the general contractor won't even return your phone calls to tell you when it will be finished. Close the windows you say? Yeah, right. The beeps are cranked up so high they go right through walls. I can hear them in my shower. These beeps are designed to do exactly this... cut through everything, including hearing protectors. And even if the windows did cut the noise more than 12 decibels (which they don't at close range) who wants to live all summer in an apartment where you can't even open the windows for fresh air? Construction sites are enduring fixtures. We are not talking about hearing a garbage truck once a week.

Furthermore, as the machines do their thing all day, the beeping patterns basically stop and start at random, which makes them especially headache-inducing. Incidentally, annoying loud noise produced at unpredictable intervals is a classic form of torture, dating back thousands of years. It's a standard way of softening up prisoners for interrogation. The effects of noise like this should not be underestimated. The stress of this adds up. Believe me.

So don't say it's overly sensitive to even suggest this to the point of personal insult, not until you've have it shoved down your own ears ad nauseam. The guy is not a bleeding heart. The guy has a point.

I agree with you 100%. I'm listening to a beep right now and it is making me mental!

I couldn't agree more. I've been woken up this morning, as I do every day, by a cacophony of alarms mainly from construction vehicles. There's a major development about 400 yards away and I happen to live in an area where every other resident is continually engaged in some kind of (usually hideous) 'home improvement'. It's incredible; first off are the vehicles performing 40-point reverse turns, so you get groups of about 8 beeps again, and again, and again. Each group of beeps has a distinctive pattern, the first beep being longer than the others; this has an effect similar to chinese water torture. Then there are the idiots who are trying to reverse down the residential streets, and all the other machines. It's like listening to some kind of nightmarish orchestral arrangement for beepers.

I'm very very annoyed. It's been going on for years and will continue to. It amazes me that the human race managed to survive in days before these beepers. Do they actually honestly serve a useful purpose, or are they just a typically overprecious and unnecessary health and safety measure? Please, please bring on the white noise beepers. Before I start going out at night and sabotaging them.

Night-time sabotage. Yes. I think about this every single day of my life.

Night-time sabotage, lol. I feel you. If only I was a less law-abiding citizen...

I agree. There is a hot spot in hell waiting for the "well meaning" legislature that came up with the back up beep. It's a classic example of solving a problem with a much worse one.

The maddness with these beepers must stop! They must be rounded up and burned, every last one of them.
NYC is way to much when it comes to this high pitched nusance. Day in and day out that is all i hear every hour
of almost every day. The only break that seems to come is on sunday. Write your congressmen and senators.
The backup beeper must be erraticated!

Well you are all in luck , i work for a UK company that produces broad band reversing alarms for vehicles, which aim to replace the annoying beep beep sounds everyone hates so much, not only does it reduce the noice pollution its more directional so its easier to identify where the sound is coming from.

That's great that you have a solution. What is a citizen to do about getting it implemented?

I agree with Brad. The moral issue is are we as a society going to continue to disregard humanity? It is inhumane for responsible members of society to be subjected to this torturous noise pollution. Seriously, if it werent for the beep, the project sites would be bearable. The issue like aforementioned is to find a less piercing torturous sound. However, since a bunch of idiots run things in this country, and we have to go through them to try and get things done, nothing will come of this. We will just have to simply snip the connecting wires on the beepers!!!

If someone were standing in close enough proximity to one of these vehicles to be in danger, then they would certainly hear the engine noise. No need for a beep so people miles away can be forewarned. The engine noise is loud enough.

That beeping is extremely annoying and easily fixed. There is a type of speaker system that has extremely directional sound. It involves combining two ultrasound sources that interfere to create an audible sound. The point is, ultrasound is extremely directional and using this type of speaker setup, only someone behind the equipment in a certain area would hear the reverse alarm at any noticeable volume. I saw this type of speaker setup in a magazine a few years ago, and they were saying that malls would start using it for advertising, and people might use it in home theaters so they can have them louder without disturbing anyone.

It would do your cause well to research accident statistics from countries that have never seen the need for BEEP legislation, e.g. Germany. I've been trying to find out which countries do have BEEP legislation, but English wikipedia articles on Automobile Safety and Traffic Safety don't even mention this.

I also agree with Brad. I live in a nice little village in Massachusetts with a landscaping lot nearby. It's a lovely, pristine, sleepy little area but some days I hear the beeps all day long. And as Brad mentioned, those beeps travel far and wide. It's a shame.

I am 43. Somehow I survived growing up without reverse lights on trucks. I know of not one single person who has been rundown by a truck in reverse. If people are too stupid to hear a truck engine and not pay attention, well, perhaps they should be run down. And if you are a parent and allow your child to be subjected to that kind of "danger", then perhaps you should have your children taken away.

This world has started catering to the lowest common denominator. If one kid is killed by some freak accident (carbon monoxide poisoning, trucks backing up, bike accident, etc) then the rest of us are FORCED to deal with it.

Whatever happened to natural selection? Whatever happened to personal accountability for one's own safety and the safety of their family? Whatever happened to the freedom to live our lives as we see fit?

What's next? Legislation requiring Kevlar body condoms 24 hours a day? We DON'T need the fat government protecting us. That is OUR responsibility.

The good thing is, pretty soon our aristocratic government will create SO many laws and regulations that they will be impossible to track, follow and enforce. Then perhaps we can start over from scratch.

In Britain, the laws for electrical work in the home changed so it's almost impossible to do anything more than fit a lightbulb or fit a plug without calling for a qualified electrician. The government 'idiot proofed' the law because so many people had got caught up in the DIY boom and Darwin Awarded themselves. I think, the general rise in 'stupidity' is down to too much competition. It creates a huge amount of stress that fills peoples minds with junk, and this gets in the way of paying attention. Now, I don't entirely blame the government for this. Business and public have a responsibility. Less arrogance and greed in business, and taking the time to learn something and not leap on every fashion bandwagon that comes along would help. Bottom line? Everyone just needs to calm down a bit.

Well here's one example:
"Mrs Smith, 62, was walking up Cranbourne Street, Brighton, when the lorry reversed into the cut-through from West Street to Churchill Square.

Mrs Smith had her coat hood up and appeared not to hear the truck before it hit her and she disappeared underneath it."

Thankfully safety legislation is written to consider the carelessness and "stupidity" of the average Joe Bloggs.

If someone was struck by lightening, what's the government going to do about that? I'd say, don't go outside when there is a lightening storm and get in harm's way.

It's interesting that you would mention electrical work.... I do a lot of DIY work but there are some things I don't do myself, like electrical work beyond simple wiring, gas lines, etc. But it seems that the pro's I hire are already sidestepping the myriad regulations because they're just too ridiculous to keep up with. I've heard the phrase "It's not code but...." more than a few times. So maybe we're already on the downward slope toward anarchy. One can only hope.

I appreciate what you're saying, but I think staying calm will just let the situation continue and get worse. Without some level of outrage nothing will change. After all, didn't the French stay calm when the Germans marched into Paris?????

I think the problem is that our legislatures have too much time to think up things to do. They sit in their ivory towers and decide what's best for the masses who are too stupid to run their own lives. The problem is, we are able to run our own lives. But government is just getting too fat so we aren't allowed to do it anymore.

Well, your position is simple and runs with the crowd but it's dangerous. I agree, life has become too complicated and, yes, people do find ways around that. The problem is, that opens the door for both useful people and knaves. The Tao comments that when government's legislate too much the people become clever, and that in times of chaos feudal lords arise. Steve Richards offers a more conversational comment on that in today's Independent.

My take on British politics is that the years of asset stripping and consumerism under Thatcher and Blair are a bubble that's bursting, and that taking on the power of big companies and helping society glue itself back together in a long-term context are what's required. The Brown government has to focus more on self-confidence, while the Tory's have their leafy-suburb selfishness deep-cleaned, and the Liberal's fantasy politics becomes more grounded. Gordon Brown is THE MAN, and people in all parties just have to get used to that.

The American's do confidence better than the British, and Japan does teamwork better than the British. The problem is the British are deluded and confuse contrariness with confidence, and insularity with teamwork. Speak to any economist and they will agree Britain's economic fundamentals are broken, and that's why. Gordon Brown favours self-confidence and a glued together society, and the long-view. By developing this in small steps Britain should turn around. Any short-term turbulence is just noise.

Developing happiness, contentment, and patience helps grow the sweet spot.

Well, your position BEEP! is simple and runs BEEP! with the crowd BEEP! but it's BEEP! dangerous. I agree, BEEP! life has become too complicated and, BEEP! yes, people do find ways around that. BEEP! The problem is, BEEP! that opens the door for BEEP! both useful people BEEP! and knaves. The Tao BEEP! comments BEEP! that when government's BEEP! legislate BEEP! too much the people BEEP! become clever, BEEP! and that in times of chaos BEEP! feudal lords BEEP! arise. Steve Richards BEEP! offers a more BEEP! conversational BEEP! comment BEEP! on BEEP! that BEEP! in BEEP! today's BEEP! Independent. BEEP!

This person has EWD. I think it's clear.

I too have endured the beep. Our town has a noise law that construdtion cannot start before 7 AM. This seemingly does not apply to garbage haulers or delivery vans. Personaly, I think the simpilest solution is to use a lower frequency beep. I dont see why a backup alarm needs to be heard blocks away. The lower frequency can be very loud, is easier to endure and can be heard where it needs to be. It would also be a very low cost change.

I think the high pitched beep is old tech and could use improvement.

Contact your local legislators they made the law they can change it but won't unless the people ask them too..

Here's the link to find the legislative rep. in your area. Just put in your zip code.

I am so happy to see that I am not the that is infuriated by why this BEEP BEEP BEEP has to travel for miles to keep a person that is right behind a truck safe! Brad....can you set up a petition to be circulated to legislators? One that suggests viable solutions to this issue. I live in Brooklyn and am disturbed by this noise constantly: the Verizon truck, the garbage truck, the school bus, the delivery vehicle.etc, etc... It never ends! Thank you.

Yes, I'd like some input on what to say to my legilative representative.

oops - "legislative"

Yes. Machine back-up beeping is TORTURE in the extreme. The beeps that get me the most are the good ol' "several going concurrently". You lay there on your pillow trying to time each rhythm, gradually becoming even more insane. You're either forced to contemplate and pursue suicide, homicide, or blasting Motorhead on your stereo at deafening levels - and that is called "relief".

A few years ago, at 3:30 on a winter weeknight, I actually went loony - I stormed out in my pajamas with a loaded bb air handgun shooting straight at a bobcat driver who was clearing snow. Strange how he didn't see me there shooting at him. Later that month my roommate rammed a heavy chair through his bedroom wall into the adjacent bathroom. Fun times.

My point is - I AM AWARE OF MY SURROUNDINGS. If there are workers in the area, they should have their heads out of their asses. Blind people should have dogs, or accept the risks when they're out in public - plus aren't engines loud enough? Most are diesel, aren't they? AND - What about deaf people - no one obviously gives a shit about them!

A question for further consideration- why not let "natural selection" weed out those dick-heads who ignorantly walk behind heavy equipment? Fuck 'em all. I need my peace of mind!

Thanks for opening this discussion. Just another idiotic reminder of a bureaucratic and politically correct society in a "liable" age gone awry.

Nevertheless, I'm glad there are others adding their $0.02 on the subject, too. let's put an end it!!

Matt, Alberta, Canada.

Whenever I hear some van beeping I get this little movie run through my head like the town crier in the TV series Rome. *BEEP* "Important person coming" *BEEP* "Make way peons" *BEEP* "Look at me" *BEEP* *FLOURISH* *BOW*

I once lived next to an overcrowded bus station. They had to parallel park 15 buses right across from my living room and the beeping lasted forever. And this was 2 blocks from the Pacific Ocean! I moved. Now I moved, but next to a school that was doing 2 years of renovation, now a water treatment plant is being put in. I'm going nuts. With leaf blowers and other landscaping motors, squeaking brakes from poorly maintained trucks, TV commericals that are much louder than the programs, overly sensitive car alarms, jet noise from "small" airports, and my children screaming in my ear I am frayed and angry. I would gladly allow women and children to die "unnecessarily" for some peace of mind. Oh, and did you know that it is a traffic violation to use your horn except in the case of an emergency (like someone cutting you off). I wish someone would tell the the truck drivers that who seem to like to communicate with the horn (but are probably exempt from this law). This is not just about beeping trucks like some have mentioned, but about a general erosion of sanctuary, essential for mental health. The liability lawyers and the juries who award large payouts (and the judges that allow them) are to blame. They are destroying our way of life. Oh, and why do we concentrate so on the few preventable deaths so much instead of the mass killers? Because it's easy and it makes the politicans look like they are doing something. But people are starting to fight. Just look at the Free Range Kids Movement Where will it end? Will I wait 12 hours for a H1N1 Flu shot tommorrow or just say, screw it, it kills less people than lightning.

Personally, I am listening to three back up beeps right now, and I'm thinking of breaking into the grounds at night to disable all the devices. I wonder if anyone in construction, a true worker, has a good story about being saved by these beeps. Some say that a good measure of civilization is its respect for the sanctity of life. Then again, we are animals and sometimes we eat our young.

Even if you move to the country, you'll have to put up with endless dog barking.
I've found that for sanity, pick up a hobby that involves getting out there. Like country biking, cross country skiing, kayaking, canoeing.
Twice a week.

I completely agree that those beeping noises are far too loud and high pitched. In fact, I find them almost painful to endure. There is no reason they need to be so loud (around 97 db. Apparently OSHA considers this to fall within in the "risk range" and feels exposure to this level of sound should be limited--see Incidentally, when a person loses his or her hearing, the first thing that goes is the upper range. So what's the pitch on these bloody little warning devices? You guessed it--the upper range. It seems to me that warning beepers and smoke detectors alike would be more effective if they were pitched in a lower, less painful range, and in the case of the backup beeper with the sound directed towards the rear of the vehicle. (Or perhaps people could learn to be more observant of their surroundings when in a construction zone and not walk behind large pieces of equipment. After all, there is something to be said for personal responsibility.....)

I find back up beeps to be a scourge, also. There are deliveries in our neighborhood at 3 and 4 in the morning and the beeps wake me up. I sincerely doubt anyone at the nursing home is wandering in the driveway at that time in the morning. There has to be a better way. In Croatia last summer we rented a car that had the beeps, but they were just loud enough for the immediate area and they got louder and faster as an object (like the car behind when we were parallel parking) was getting too close. I listened for several hours yesterday as a truck was apparently doing work only while in reverse. What can we do about this?

There is a lot of sensible comment here and a lot of nonsence. These reversing beepers do save injury and lives, but they can be annoying, to say the least. There are some ways to limit their carrying distance without reducing their effect.

If a single frequency beep came from two speakers half a wavelength apart, the signal would be directive. (eg, 2kHz beep, 108mm or 8 inches apart.) The two sounds would add behind the truck, but counter each other to the side. This would at least reduce the impact.

A more complex, but not necessarily expensive, grid of sound sources could limit the sound to where it is needed. This is not new science, but just applying what is already known. I think that 4 sources working in phase on the corners of a square might be fine.

They are born of craven venality and must be stopped. I live in Los Angeles, where the noise pollution is already intolerable. However, what makes the beeping insanity-making is the utter uselessness of it. Do we not have eyes to see? Are we so infantalized in this country that we can't take care to keep away from very large vehicles in motion? God, we're idiots. As some point out, construction would be tolerable but for the beeping, which is both incessant and irregular--if such a thing is possible. Urban life would be tolerable, but for the beeping. A pox on all who force this most pernicious scourge on us. A pox, a pox. And thank you to all who propose intelligent solutions. But venality is low and dirty and mean—good luck.

If you walk in back of a moving truck you deserve to get run over. Noise pollution is a bigger problem than the effects of Darwinism.

I want to congratulate Brad for bringing this issue out in the open. Yes, beep signals has very little to do with safety and more to do with noise pollution and disturbing other people lives and tranquility. Today, you go to the supermarket and zummm, the doors open just before you. You exit the airport and zumm, the door just open before you. What is that? That is called sensors! Sensors have been around for quite a while. Trucks can be equip with these sensors and the beep goes inside of the driver's cabin. When a person walks behind of a noisy moving vehicle, the driver will be alerted and stop. It also can be connected to the driver's engine shutting it off. By the way, a person that walks behind a moving vehicle can only be a person out of a mental institution. If you cannot educate your child about the danger of running in front or behind a vehicle you should not have a child. Just give it up to adoption, the poor kid will have better parents and life out of your hands and supervision. We do have the technology. It can even be a mix of sensors and a camera. The only thing we do not have right now is honest people in our Government to do the right thing. This idea of beeping, I am sure did come from a psychopath's idea and OSHA, GOV and ADA just went for it without weighting the repercussion of it's outcome. Maybe we should have these annoying and anti-health beep signals going off on different types of modulation in every Court House, in every Judge's house, at the Mayor's Office and it's Supervisor's 24/7 for their own safety. You know mister Mayor, you may not see the water tank in your office and hit the water tank and brake your leg. You see Mr. Judge you might not see that the door of your house is close and just walk through it hitting your head and having a heart attack in the process. My God, how stupid people can get and thus dragging our laws to the same path of their stupidity. You can find me on Twitter at and there are also a lot of work I did on Current under the url: still I have no idea if that produced any resulted on people's education in relation to the negative health effects of noise pollution. One thing is certain; we need a change! Not the Obama's change but a real Change in Education and behavior on the General Public and the Government Legislative, Executive and Judiciary in relation to noise pollution and our Constitutional right to leave in a quiet and peaceful environment. Noise is war against public property! It should be considerate a crime just like graffiti is a crime. You can also make a statement signing up my petition at: Thanks!

Beeping is annoying. I noticed the other day a city truck was beeping but was NOT backing up. When I asked the man in the truck why the truck was beeping he said he had the truck in reverse even though he was not moving. I told him to stop by beep by putting the truck in drive, which he did.

There are ways to get the beeping to stop. The first step is to simply ask. Problem is, it is not that simple. Not simple because the powers that be, the government does not listen. So, to get someone to listen is the real problem. After that anything can be solved.

Please use the tools available to you (ie the internet and the proper technology)

The problem has been solved, just not widely implemented yet. Approved by OSHA and MSHA depending on the situation.

1. Brigade, 2006, “Broadband Sound,
The Noiseless Alarm with Safety and
Environmental Benefits”, A Brigade
white paper- October 2006, rev2.,
Brigade Electronics, Inc., New York,
New York.
2. Brigade, 2007, “How it Works”,
(website article), bbs-tek®
broadband sound back-up alarms.
Brigade Electronics, PLC. Source:

Please read the original article! Brigade's tech has been noted there for years.

Can anybody point me to any study or even anecdotal evidence that suggests the beeping sound promotes safety in any meaningful way?

Think of the number of times you've heard the beeping and thought "wow, that's annoying." Now think of the number of times you've heard the beeping and thought "I didn't notice this truck before, but now I need to get out of the way." My personal count is several thousand to zero.

The price in noise pollution is high. The least that any supporter of the beeping can do is show the price is worth some safety benefit. I have never seen the mechanism prevent an accident - seems pretty damning.

A commenter said, "People have to be warned of a backing up truck."

Actually, it should be the responsibility of the *driver* of any multi-ton vehicle operating in an area where others might be walking to make sure that backing up can be done safely. Backup beepers exist to keep drivers safe from lawsuits, not to warn potential victims. Their existence actually increases carelessness. Every day, in NYC, I see trucks pull up, shift into reverse, start beeping, and start moving backwards without more than a casual look (if that) from the driver. No fear of liability, no reason to bother looking. Shift the responsibility to others.

Will a child know to run out of the way? Will a deaf person hear the beeper? What if I stop to tie my shoe and can't get up in time? Will an elderly or disabled person be able to hobble or wheel away in time to avoid being crushed? I do know that they won't be allowed to sue! Their heirs won't be allowed to either.

Backup beepers themselves will cause death or injury sooner or later. I'm sure it's happened already.

I'm so glad I found this page. These backup beeps are the second most pernicious noise where I live in downtown Toronto and from the responses on this blog, in a lot of other places too (the worst, IMO, is ridiculously loud motorcycles, but thankfully South Park has already spoofed those so they're at least in the public consciousness). As others have pointed out, noises like this have many harmful effects and backup beeps in particular negatively affect many times more people than they protect, elevating stress levels for thousands (millions?), which as we all know can be directly correlated with increased risk for a number of debilitating as well as deadly illnesses. Thanks to the poster who pointed out the white noise backup alarms developed in the UK.. they sound like a wonderful compromise between those who are concerned about traumatic physical risk and those of us who are more concerned about cumulative psychological risk.

Brad, you're so right about these hideous beepers. I live in Australia where we too are tortured by these noisy objects, and many other noisy objects of torture, all calculated to drive any sane and thoughtful person to anger and depression. Like other people who have posted here, I too have felt such rage at the noise that I have contemplated extreme violence. An utterly useless and pointless invention, and even small vans very often have them. And the pitch! Imagine having a job where you invent a stupid noise to drive people crazy, as so many have commented, torture for absolutely no SANE reason. I was at a beautiful beach recently, listening to the ridiculous beeping of a stupid machine across the bay - it was in a fenced off area where there was no-one to run over, thanx for nothing for ruining a trip to the beach. Another unbelievably stupid invention -the leaf blower! I am so sick of seeing people blow their leaves into the drain to get washed into the ocean, and making a dreadful cacophony while they are about it. I bought raffle tickets recently in a hardware store - the prize was a wheelbarrow full of tools, including a leaf blower - I wanted to win so I could stand on a main road and conspicuously smash the hateful thing! Went to a water theme park yesterday - it was blowing a gale and some f**kwit was still blowing leaves around - incomprehensible stupidity! It makes me so angry I want to grab the stupid thing out of the stupider person's hands and bludgeon them to death with it! A POX on them all! And we are supposed to be CIVILISED???? Don't make me laugh!

I, too, live with the noise of beeps, sometimes all day and all night. I'm caretaking a property with my brother. We are on the verge of quitting this job.It's not worth the hassle. We are being 'tortured' by these 2 large forklifts 1 kilometre away. Until a few weeks ago, these forklifts were only using their vehicle's horns to signal they were reversing and this was very rarely, as they only used 2 forklifts when they were busy.They never used the beeps even when they were busy. The beeping only started 2 weeks ago. We also have to put up with them taking shipping containers off the trains, moving them to another part of the yard and just dumping them down. We also live in Australia. I don't see any safety aspect of this beeping, except for the fact that the beeping is making us and our neighbours really angry and also depressed. It's a loud noise that is 'torturing' us and it should be stopped.

YES. This is a HUGE problem! They have been building a fire station caddy-corner to my apartment for the last 8 months. At first there would be 2-3 beepers going simultaneously... at the crack of dawn. I work the evening shift, so yea, it was a big problem. I tried white noise, but the sound pierced through. Then, 2 months ago the beeping subsided. Now this morning... Crack of dawn, here we go again. Non-stop. For hours! I have an important exam today, and I'm sleep-deprived and grounchy.

Somebody DO something. It's like having an alarm clock that won't shut off!

Those backup alarms are absolutely hideous and should be done away with, immediately. I live near a Fire Station, and up until about 2002, the fire engines used (silent)back up lights to signify that an engine was backing up. I guess they felt they had to add those God-forsaken beepers in case a BLIND fireman didn't know they were backing up!!
If I were President of The United States, my first order of business would be to ban the use of backup alarms at once!

Even when it stops (which seems to be never) you can still 'hear' it. Your brain gets fried from it. You can't concentrate. Nothing blocks it out. We had a road reconstruction project on my street that went bad and as such took TWO YEARS to complete with the only respite being the most freezing of the winter months. As soon as I opened my windows again there they were again, starting from scratch. I went to talk to the foreman one day and he was a rude jackass in response. I talked to the City and they didn't give a rat's ass. I talked to the neighbours about starting a class action lawsuit and two of them actually responded by telling me to buy ear plugs and stop being hostile!!!!! (WTF?? turned out they had some driveway repairs done by the company while the project was ongoing.. likely for free) Magically though, after I talked about a lawsuit the project of two years wrapped up in only 4 more days.

Anyway I'm blabbering on now but I want to support the outcry about these alarms. They serve NO purpose because like another poster said they are so continuous that people don't pay attention to the safety aspect of it at all anymore. Not to mention.. the guys ON the construction site get ear protection!!!


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