March 2017 Vol. 25, No. 1

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New technology for back-up alarms

Image of maintenance vehicle backing up

Photo: Shutterstock

If annoyance level is an indication, backup beepers may be one of the most harmful noises. One alternative technology to the traditional backup beeper is the broadband beeper. This type of device has the same cadence as the conventional beeper but broadcasts a “white-noise” whooshing sound. An article in Colorado LTAP’s summer/fall 2016 newsletter discusses the technology.

Technologies that could mitigate problems from backup beepers have existed for over two decades. Nonetheless, the conventional single-tone backup alarm still dominates road construction and maintenance sites.

Advances in technology mean there are alternatives. One is the BBS-Tek® White Noise Reversing Alarm manufactured by Brigade Electronics. In contrast to the beeping sound of the old fashioned high-pitched pure tone alarm, the BBS-Tek® back-up alarm uses broadband sound, also known as “white sound.” Because broadband sound dissipates at twice the rate of a pure tone sound, it doesn’t cause noise nuisance to neighboring residents or other workers on site.

The white noise reversing alarm is also considered safer because unlike conventional alarms whose noise can be heard all around the work site, broadband is localized. This means the sound is directed only into the hazard zone and not everywhere else, which increases response to the alarm and diminishes the chance of it being ignored. In a busy working or urban environment, anyone in the danger zone can recognize that the sound is coming directly from the reversing vehicle nearby.

White noise reversing alarms have been approved for use in construction vehicles in all areas of New York City and were implemented on the equipment at the Town of Snowmass Village, Colorado.

(Adapted with permission from Colorado LTAP.)