That annoying beep-beep-beep noise you hear when a truck is reversing could become a thing of the past as studies have found the traditional ‘beep’ noise to be ineffective as an alert system, resulting in a safety hazard.
The Back-up Beep has historically been used to warn nearby people that a large vehicle is reversing, however because the alarm is so loud (often heard up to 3km away) we have learned to tune it out. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has even mandated that workers on construction sites wear ear protection to shield them from the very thing that is supposed to alert them to a safety hazard!
The sound of a beep, whilst irritatingly loud, is also low frequency, therefore making it hard for the human ear to tell where the alert is coming from.
To solve the problem, safety experts are suggesting a move to a white-noise alert solution. A white-noise broadband alarm can broadcast a sound that is more focused and concentrated on the area where people may be at risk. Studies suggest that we are less likely to tune out intermittent bursts of white noise.
Netflix’s White Rabbit Project recently covered this topic and conducted a fun experiment to see whether white noise really is easier to hear and pinpoint by location. They found that compared to the beeps, white noise was much more effective in alerting someone to the specific location of a hazard, even amongst the background noise of a busy construction site.