Everyone – no matter where you live here in Arizona – is familiar with that obnoxious “beep beep” sound commercial trucks and vehicles make when they’re backing up. This sound is designed to alert passers-by like pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles when a truck goes into reverse. It’s supposed to let us know we should be aware of our surroundings and to stop, look and proceed with caution. Tractor-trailer drivers have a very limited view of what’s behind them, and rely (sometimes too much) on this noise to let people know they’re backing up.
Research from 2017 shows that we’re starting to tune that beeping noise out. We’re used to it and, although it’s loud, it’s also low-frequency, which means it can be difficult to quickly figure out where the sound is coming from. And for many people, that delay can cost them their lives.
Realizing that reverse alarms were insufficient, and citing 11 construction worker deaths in a 10-year period from truck backing-up accidents, many Canadian truck fleets installed “white noise” reverse alarms on their vehicles instead. White noise reverse alarms send out a focused pulse of white noise at the area where the truck is backing up. This sound quickly alerts anyone in the immediate vicinity, but doesn’t disturb the neighboring area. You can listen to the sound here.
Here in the States, OSHA allows the use of white noise reverse alarms on construction vehicles.
About truck backing-up accidents
Because of a truck’s massive size and limited visibility, backing up and turning around are risky maneuvers. An inexperienced or careless driver can cause a serious truck accident – they can cause serious property damage, back into a smaller vehicle or even kill a pedestrian. Even when a truck is traveling at a snail’s pace, it can cause significant physical injury and damages.
If a truck driver is acting recklessly or under the influence – or simply doesn’t know how to properly handle their rig – they can put everyone around them in danger. Big trucks don’t reverse only in a loading dock. You’ll see them in shopping centers, gas stations, rest stops, and even right in the middle of town if an unfortunate driver took a wrong turn.
Truck driver responsibility
No matter what type of reverse alarm a truck uses, a driver cannot rely on it when backing up. It’s simply a warning to passers-by, not a substitute for a visual check. Truck drivers must be extremely cautious when backing up, using their side-view and rear-view technology (if they have it) and ensure they take blind spots into consideration. Drivers must be trained in using all of their mirrors strategically in order to get a complete view of what’s behind them – before and during their attempt to reverse and turn around.
Commercial drivers must also ensure the path is clear to proceed before putting their truck into drive or reverse. Common safety techniques include getting out to physically check the area, using a spotter to clear and manage traffic, or marking off a safety area with traffic cones. Additionally, all trucks should be outfitted with working reverse alarms and lights.
If you or a loved one suffered injury in a truck accident, the lawyers at Plattner Verderame, P.C. can help. We work to hold trucking companies accountable and secure compensation for your injuries and losses. For a free, no-obligation case evaluation in our Phoenix or Tempe office, reach out to a member of our firm by calling 602-266-2002 or by completing our contact form.
Partner Frank Verderame is a seasoned trial attorney, who has dedicated his life to helping victims of serious injuries. He is a Board Certified Specialist in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation, and has been an active part of legal communities and organizations since he started his practice, back in 1983.
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