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.


Replace high energy sound waves with radio waves. A collar worn around the neck, first a audible warning of 117db and if too close a shock. The driver of the Dangerous vehicle would have a device that would not stop until the driver pushed a button in the blind spot of the vehicle. It will teach them to do it fast. The backing up vehicle could sound all cell phones with the backup warning tone. Until you really get assaulted by this kind of sound, you just cant understand. That hopeless feeling that nothing can be done. No way out,like a trapped animal, running back and forth in the cage. You try to tell someone, that blank stare. You know what I am talking about. Good luck along your way.

I call them idiot whistles!

There are no need for idiot whistles of any kind to be heard OUTSIDE any vehicle, the idiot who is responsible for possibly hitting, running [or backing] over, or harming any living creature is in the driver seat. The DRIVER should be the one who is being warned, and ONLY the driver. We already know to watch out! Watch out for that child watch out for that stray dog watch out for the leaping deer, let alone the poor sad turtle, watch out for that motorcycle and especially watch out for the OTHER idiots on the road!

As a DRIVER backs up, engaged the moment the vehicle is put into reverse, a previously installed warning sensor mechanism which sounds off [or in a noisy construction site scenario; a revolving yellow caution light comes on] to be HEARD or seen INSIDE the vehicle and ONLY INSIDE THE VEHICLE, by the driver, after all who IS driving and THOUGHT to be in control, WHEN and ONLY WHEN the said sensor mechanism installed in the vehicle encompasses an OBSTACLE OF ANY KIND in its path, whether a person, animal, wall, hedge, shrub, tree, telephone pole, fire hydrant, or another idiot in another vehicle, or what have you.

If this sensor mechanism, already in wide use in many personal private automobiles, were to be made MANDATORY by the government for use in all FEDERAL, STATE, and LOCAL CITY vehicles and all other forms of public transportation; refuse trucks, fire engines, buses, you name it, just imagine the impact it would have on this often intolerable noise pollution, world wide.

SOMETHING must be done! and sadly I must leave it up to the BEEPING government to start what should have been done before the PROBLEM, which it most certainly is one, ever began. What do so many of them do for all that money besides find ways to waste more of it, idiots!

Wishing all a truly PEACEFUL holiday season! but doubt we'll be having one ever again in our lives...

Rethink outside the box start from scratch to find real and lasting solutions for a better future for all.

i have to wake up at 5 every morning and they come at four. it's soo freaking annoying because i live in a cul de sac and they have to back up then go forward and backup and go forward. who the heck is going to be outside at 4 in the morning that you're going to run into at a cul de sac???

I was in the US Army for 12 years. Non of the vehicles have backup alarms. Why? because when you are backing up a large vehicle, you are required to have an assistant to help guide you in reverse and it let's others know to watch out.

Truck beep is horrible noise pollution. It's worse than a leaf blower. It is grossly inconsiderate and should be banned. Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep,......... It just trashes the quality of life. If someone wants to drive a truck, that's entirely their business, not mine. If the driver doesn't want to hit anyone, it's his business. He should look where he's going. Use a mirror! Since when did his truck driving become any of my responsibility? If I were to sit outside in my car with the stereo cranked up, there would be noise complaints and I would be told to stop. It's called disturbing the peace. If someone is dumb enough to stand behind a backing-up truck - let them get run over. I don't care. Their worthless DNA will be deleted from the gene pool.
Oh yeah,.. ban car alarms too, and hang the idiots who have them!

Just moved into an Urban area, really very nice spot.. Day after the move, the beeping at 7:01 am three days a week started with the Garbage trucks and it's so loud, ear plugs would not suffice! I read all your comments from others and was wondering, nothing new in your blog recently... I find it amusing that people would scream at you about your thoughts. How ignorant, as ignorant as the Dude that created this Beep Beeping...
IN Madness, I try not to get Mad and go to the GYM but it's in that room too! HELP! :(

I live near a firehouse, and since 2002 ALL of the emergency vehicles have been fitted with a hyper-annoying back up alarm!! I think I'm actually developing a case of tinnitus from it, and really there is nothing anybody can do about it, since SOMEBODY COULD BE KILLED WITHOUT IT!!!! What effen hogwash, no fireman is stupid enough that they wouldn't see the white backup lights illuminate on a firetruck, or bloody walk behind it while its backing up!! Back in the day, the trucks were equipped with bells that would softly ring during back up. I'm not sure why they had to do away with that system?!? Big Brother is always up our as-es trying to make the world a "better" place, when they should bloody leave well enough alone. I can't stand all the pesky beaurocratic red tape.

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 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.

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 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 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 alarms are now affecting my grammar!! :P

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.

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.

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

What was the outcome of this trial?
I may do the same thing here in Toronto, Canada.

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?...

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 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.

... 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 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.


Sign & share.

Happy Holidays!

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 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, but cars don't beep. so, we care about construction workers, but not kids?
why don't cars have to beep when backing up?!!?

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

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.

sorry my coomnet wasnt clear . is the stress from hearing the wretched back up beep for over year every day .
makes me want to kill whoever uses the back up beep not my ' fellow want the back up beeper banned '

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.

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?

We should all contact DOT in D.C. and urge the powers-that-be, to enact a law that would replace all current disruptive back-up alarms, with the new "noiseless" devices. These devices operate on a concept called Broadband. If you think about soundwaves like water, picture a garden hose 'fanning-out' a mist of water, instead of hitting you with a solid jet of water, its just like that.

More information about the product; Brigade Electronics - White Sound "Noiseless" Back-Up Alarm. For a demonstration, check out Youtube, and search 'White Sound Back-Up Alarms.'

The Department Of Transportation Help-Line in Washington D.C., as previously listed, (877)367-7487

#Brigade Electronics #Go Noiseless!

For anyone in Australia wanting to take this issue further, please contact your local mp and sign/share my petition

i tried that phone number i think it might be wrong.anyone have the correct phone number to call the dept of transportation aslo the us surgeon general number since thats who got the smoking ban finally .noise [ and the back up beep has to be the worst ever] is a health hazard[ second hand noise ] as much as second hand smoke . we need a ban now ! it is torture .i cant work i cant concentrate , im sure my bloood presure is up and is affecting my heart .
brad is right we need a ban. cameras best ,havent heard the white noise machine .it must be an improvement
there are a few noise organizations we must work on this . its like the smoking bans it took a while but we will win. is a pain that its just a few of us have to fight this . what would be best is if we coudl have the back up beep to sound all day and all night right outside all legislators all govt officails all construction company owners all developers homes for a few years see how they like it

hello ...I live in a residential area in queens new York and right next to me the city allowed a 7 story building and they have a whole floor devoted to adult entertaining and they bring them in on buses like 15 buses they have and they all back up to dismount the people and when these buses back up the beeping that comes from them is unbearable cause they have them too loud and we work midnight shift and you can imagine the suggestion is that in these days in age they have back up cameras which are more effective in seeing the people if any are in the way of the buses backing up plus a super bright rotating beacon so that people can definitely see it like one blogger here mentioned these back up cameras are really cheap now and again more effective...I cannot tell you how much of a torture this situation is to me and my family and neighbors around this building...I think the fix is fair and it will solve the problem for everybody...the city doesn't want to even hear this complaint the police either so I don't know what else to do...thank you.

1. The inventor was Ed Peterson. He invented it in 1962 and called it the Bac-Alarm. He sold the first one to Morrison-Knudsen in 1967. I'd say to thank him, but he died in 1999. Though his invention was as annoying as the stupid car alarms with 6 different tones, I would not wish his death on anyone: Prostate Cancer.

2. As usual with government, they only made this invention worse, requiring it in BOTH directions on some equipment. There's probably a whole bureau of six-figure bureaucrats whose income depends on this thing continuing.

3. Not only that, but starting this year (2018) electric vehicles will be required to have this type of beeper going in BOTH directions below a certain speed.

Had enough 'government' yet?

In order for the output of a speaker to be as loud as an alarm clock from "miles" away (I'll assume you mean 2 miles), it would have to be connected to a 10 million watt amplifier assuming 99db efficiency. More realistically, the 400ish people who signed that petition simply have misophonia and instead of addressing it are attempting to risk the safety of others. I'm not saying there's not better options than the beeper, but that's not your motivation. You just think it's annoying. I've seen it save lives.

back up beeps are a health hazard for everyone just as second hand smoke is a health hazard for everyone .

Read my article in SALON

i did is great article adn i tell everyone to sign the petition too adn to join noise free america . we need to ban the back up beep.. now!!!!

hey Brad= your comments are excellent.... trying to solve this is like trying to solve the 'immigrant problem' by building a wall...we have the technology to go beyi=ond walls and beepers to high-tech detection devices and rear- view cameras as you suggested...I recently asked the foreman at anearby work site about thebeeping fr'om the bobcat that they were using to which he initially asked 'what sound' andthen I mimicked' the beep,beep,beep!' in a really high pitsh. He immediately made a comment about OSHA and how it bothers themtoo, although none of them were wearing earphones. I could go on and on about this...suffice it tosay that I,ve resorted to buying earphones which helps. We need to coalesce on this issue and try to change this. any ideas? Robert

Hi Have you ever recv’d any new information on the beeping alternatives? I live across from a marina and they have their loaders ALL DAY LONG! Even on Sundays.
It ecos so loud. I’ve called the county and they hopefully will do something, but I would like to offer the marina alternatives. If you have any I would appreciate them. Thank you, Connie

I live in L.A. (unfortunately) and you can't get away from it anywhere you go. Before the Sun even rises, the rapey back-up beeps start up. You could go to the beach, the mountains... nowhere is safe. Even after it stops you still hear it. It's absolute insanity. I'm ready to kill somebody.

Add me to list of people who can't stand those beeps. I was born in the 70s and have been annoyed by them my whole life. Now in my 40s, the noise still drives me nuts. It completely breaks my concentration and robs me of the ability to relax. Perhaps the most obnoxious invention in human history.

I live across the road from a housing development site. I work nights, therefore sleep until around midday. Every morning at 7am, a Bobcat fires up, and beeps incessantly whilst going about its business. No kids, no persons on site, other than the operator. Why the hell can't these machines have a "Beep" defeat switch when used in zero risk environments??? It's driving me to despair.

Beeping sounds are an awful unnatrual noise that distracts and causes stress. Its been a major problem in my life. Those who scoff at people sensitive to these noises don't seem to understand that an enormous number of people are highly bothered by this noise. Noise pollution is a serious issue that causes real mental and physical problems.

Broadband backup alarms are an easy fix to this problem, as they satisfy (IMO overly prescriptive) regulatory requirements while basically eliminating the problem.

In the past two years I’ve relocated like many and I made the mistake that would come to ruin my life. It’s a beautiful 10.5 acres with few neighbors and a farm near by. It was quiet when I viewed the property multiple times. I just wanted peace and quiet and was assured that this is the place. Fast forward and I’ve just closed and been handed my keys. I drive to my new slice of heaven hop out of the car and beep, beep, beep, beep…….. Two years later still all day everyday and I’m miserable, interest rates have risen and I’m stuck. I’m a prisoner in my own home and unable to enjoy the nature that surrounds me.

This country’s so called focus on mental health is a joke. Our leaders and decision makers don’t understand us or the world they force us to live in.

Ban the beep, boycott stores that expose you to the beep and be strong in telling your peace destroyers that this is not helping only hurting. Then vote them out when they ignore you.


As someone on the Spectrum who is hardwired from birth to have a highly sensitive nervous system, I could not agree more that the regulations to enforce beepers is overkill. Exceedingly overkill.

The small city I live in is ever-expanding, its population burgeoning. The result? Construction is from sunrise to sunset six days a week, all year long. It comes from the left and from the right. It pierces through woods and embraces you like state-of-the art surround sound. There is no escaping it.

Ear plugs, unfortunately, are nearly useless at cutting the beepers' frequency. I'm to the point where I now need to wear ear plugs plus heavy-duty earmuffs (the same kind construction workers don) when I go walking, even through the "peaceful" wooded state park. How ironic: I must strive to make myself deaf to the very thing that is supposed to be warning me of danger. That's what overkill does—swing too far to one side of the pendulum, and soon you'll need to counteract by going to the other extreme.

Are people so incapable of self-responsibility that they cannot be entrusted with their own situational awareness? It's maddening that entire populations should be made to suffer, having these noises enforced upon them, while causing numerous health consequences in there wake. Human nervous systems, even hardy ones, are not designed for the onslaught of manmade noise pollution we so cluelessly and thoughtlessly hammer on them. There are better solutions, as Dave points out.

Are the beepers designed to save a single life — or to destroy millions?


Add new comment