March 1, 2005
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison: The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for requiring noisy, irritating, and unnecessary back-up beepers on industrial vehicles. Because of OSHA, the American soundscape is littered with constant refrains of “Beep! Beep! Beep!” At many industrial sites, the beepers are set so loud so that they can be heard by workers wearing ear plugs!
Newspaper columnist James Donahue notes that “the grating sound of these beepers is battering peace and solitude for people everywhere there is construction work, trash being picked up, or school buses carrying children. It goes on all days, most days of the week.”
Donahue notes the illogic of this incessant noise: “What makes them think that we don’t know a big truck is about to back over us? Why do we need these obnoxious beepers to tell us what we already know?”
Ray Graham commented that his dreams of peace and tranquility in Waikiki were shattered by noise “from city buses, tour buses, delivery trucks, motorcycles, fireworks, sirens, and early morning drunks. Beep, beep, beep! For years, these have been Waikiki’s sleep deprivers. But the latest noise scoundrel to come blaring into Waikiki is the back-up beeper. Beep, beep, beep! They are everywhere, and they’re worse than the coqui frog invasion on the Big Island.”
Graham observes that at a Waikiki construction site, “these beepers are on every vehicle from backhoes to bulldozers, vehicles with no visibility restriction. Beep, beep, beep! As these machines move backward and forward on and off go those stupid beepers! And they move back and forth all day long. Beep, beep, beep!”
The New York State Department of Health, after investigating an industrial accident, concluded that back-up beepers were completely ineffective: “Often, people who work near back-up beepers have become accustomed to their sound and desensitized to their use as warning signals.”
There are clear alternatives to these grating beepers. The R. F. Knapp Company manufactures “Smart Alarms,” which sound at a minimum decibel level only when the radar detects an object. The Smart Alarm makes a sound only as long as the danger exists.
The Knapp Company also manufacturers another alternative to back-up beepers: “Smart Strobe” technology, which automatically increases in brightness during the day and decreases at night.
James Donahue suggests that individuals opposed to annoying back-up beepers could “buy a few beepers for their personal use, mount them on their cars, or even carry them when out for a walk. You could mount eight or nine of them on your cars, and back up often.” He suggests that the incredible annoyance might spur policymakers into action.
Noise Free America is a national citizens group opposed to noise pollution. Its web site is http://www.noisefree.org. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include Circuit City, Flowmaster, Governor Gray Davis, and Congressman Darrell Issa.