New technology makes quieter, safer trucks

“Hey, what’s up with your back-up beeper?” Some University of Victoria staff have been hearing that a lot lately as they operate service vehicles recently retrofitted with new reverse alarms.

UVic is one of the first organizations on Vancouver Island to install a technology that replaces the ubiquitous, often-irritating, “beep, beep” of reversing trucks with a white-noise signal that is safer, quieter and more effective. Most of UVic’s fleet of larger maintenance vehicles has been switched over to the new alarms.

Instead of a beep, the new alarms produce a hissing noise, with technology that provides several advantages. The sound is directional, so pedestrians can easily identify where it is coming from. The devices use a broadband frequency that can be localized, unlike the piercing beeps that can be heard for blocks in all directions. This allows for the alarms to be set at much quieter levels, while still being highly effective. The alarm volume will also adjust automatically to the background noise, so as to not be any louder than necessary.

“We wanted to explore new ways to reduce noise pollution and disruption here on campus and for our neighbours, while still keeping our staff and students safe,” said Ron Proulx, executive director of UVic’s facilities management department. “We consulted with WorksafeBC and the neighbourhood association, and we’re very pleased with the outcome.”

“The Gordon Head Residents’ Association and those of us living close to campus are delighted that UVic has responded to our concerns regarding loud back-up beepers, and have begun to install the lower-decibel, directional backup alarms,” said Bob Hart, director of the GHRA. “This initiative is very much appreciated.”

About 25 vehicles have been switched to the new alarms, including vans, pickups, and compactors. But until the technology becomes more widespread, drivers are getting used to explaining that their vehicles are not, in fact, malfunctioning.

**Media please note: The new reverse alarms will be demonstrated on Feb. 5 at 1:30 p.m. at the loading dock of the Bob Wright Centre (between the Bob Wright Centre and the Petch building). See map.

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Media contacts

Ron Proulx (Facilities Management) at 250-721-7596 or

Glenn Brenan (Facilities Management) at 250-721-6553 or

Joanne McGachie (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-721-8746 or

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Keywords: administrative, transportation, technology

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