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The ‘Invisible’ Truck That You Can See Right Through

February 6, 2016, 9:00 PM UTC

If you’ve ever driven behind a tractor-trailer on a two-lane road, you may be familiar with the feelings of frustration and terror when trying to pass. First there’s the subtle peek into the lane of oncoming traffic, and then the white-knuckled floor-it-moment to overtake the behemoth.

But one Samsung semi just made the art of passing a little more transparent.

It’s called a “Safety Truck,” and the tech behind it is fairly straightforward: Attach a few wireless cameras on the truck’s front end and some screens on the back (Samsung branded, of course) so that vehicles stuck behind can see what’s ahead.

Time magazine awarded the idea one of the 25 best inventions of 2015.

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Now Samsung Argentina is trying out the tech on a first prototype, set to run through 2016. Argentina is notorious for its deadly crashes and windy mountain roads.

In 2010, the World Bank loaned the country $30 million to tackle one of the highest traffic accident death rates in South America. But just how helpful can cameras and screens really be when it comes to preventing collisions?

Cameras go 360:

Increasingly, semis are featuring more elaborate camera systems for monitoring front-end collisions and keeping tabs on drivers. But this appears to be the first time a company has installed a front-facing camera and rear-end screens to help vehicles behind avoid accidents from happening in the first place.

In smaller vehicles, rear-facing cameras that monitor what’s happening as a motorist is backing up have been around for years. And when it comes to consumer crashes, those do help. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study in 2014 found that backup cameras reduced blind spots behind cars by roughly 90%. Adding cameras cut collisions with a foam dummy child nearly in half, proving to be even more effective than combining the screens with backup sensors.

Starting in 2018, these types of smaller consumer backup cameras will be required on all new cars in the U.S.

By then, maybe we’ll know a little more about whether front-end cameras and rear-end screens on the “Safety Truck” make driving safer for others.