If you’re like me, the name “Samsung” makes you think of televisions, smart phones and other personal electronic devices. However, a new product currently in the development stage at the South Korean company potentially could save lives by preventing serious tractor-trailer accidents in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Samsung’s new “Safety Truck” is designed to address the growing number of rear-end collisions and dangerous accidents involving 18-wheelers, semis and other heavy trucks. The technology behind such vehicles is a device that transforms a big rig’s rear door into what is essentially a giant television display showing the road ahead by using a front-mounted camera system. The thinking is that drivers who can see in front of a tractor-trailer from the trailing lane will be better able to determine when it is safe to pass or if there is something ahead that might cause the need to stop suddenly.
Safety Trucks are predicted to be particularly useful on two-lane roads where drivers typically can’t see around the semi-trailers in front of them. This dynamic often results in the dangerous situation where a driver attempts a “blind pass” around a semi. Attempting to pass big rigs on two-lane roads represents one of the most common scenarios for head-on collisions involving passing drivers and other vehicles in the oncoming lanes. Blind passes also cause numerous rear-end collisions when semis are cut off by passing drivers and aren’t able to stop in time to prevent a rear-end collision.
According to the most recent statistics available from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were more than 3,800 fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2012, a 5-percent increase over the previous year. The number of injury crashes in 2012 jumped 22 percent compared to 2011, with more than 77,000 individual injury incidents involving large trucks.
With the increasing number of total miles that tractor-trailers travel on U.S. highways each year, it is good to know that Samsung is developing this technology. While this particular device likely won’t eliminate all rear-end collisions or “blind pass” crashes, it does show that that least one company is willing to make a technological investment in an effort to protect drivers. Let’s hope other truck manufacturers follow Samsung’s lead.