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Would You Welcome a 'See-Thru' Semi to the Road?

Large trucks, particularly semitrailers, are the lifeblood of our nation’s interstate shipping operations. You order something on Amazon that’s too large for a drone drop-off? There’s a good chance it’s coming on a truck.

That means drivers have to share the roads with these hulking, visibility-blocking machines. But even as we appreciate the value of our 18-wheel friends, let’s not pretend any of us likes driving behind one — or forget that many tens of thousands are involved in crashes with vehicles of far-inferior mass each year.

Related: IIHS: Despite Guards, Cars Can Still Slide Under Semitrailers

In an effort to help us all coexist peacefully — and more safely — electronics giant Samsung created a prototype truck with a video display on its rear doors to help following cars see what’s on the other side of the gigantic vehicle in front of them.

Designed specifically with the predicament of driving on a two-lane highway behind a slow but difficult-to-pass semitrailer in mind, Samsung designed a system that allows drivers to see oncoming cars in the opposing lanes so that they know when it is safe to move into the other lane to pass the truck without risking a head-on collision. Reducing risks posed by sudden braking and animals in the road were other scenarios designers considered.

According to Samsung’s official blog, Samsung Tomorrow, the so-called Safety Truck consists of a wireless camera mounted to the front of the truck that is connected to a “video wall” composed of four monitors at the rear of the truck that show following motorists the forward view, visible to them day or night.

“So far Samsung has been able to confirm that the technology works and that this idea can definitely save the lives of many people,” the blog states.

The Samsung Safety Truck prototype is no longer in operation, the blog states, but additional tests are planned with the goal of real-world implementation of the technology. The prototype was tested in Argentina, for which the technology was targeted due to the South American nation’s high volume of traffic accidents occurring specifically in passing situations.

It would be welcome here in the states as well. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,802 large trucks in the U.S. in 2012 were involved in fatal crashes and 77,000 more in injury crashes. For injury accidents, that was a more than 22 percent spike compared with the year before and a nearly 33 percent increase since 2010, before which the number had been on the decline for several years. Meanwhile, fatal collisions involving trucks had been decreasing for a full five years before creeping up 18 percent between 2009 and 2012.