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'See-through' semis: Safety improvement or new distraction?

Transparency is a good thing in a lot of situations. That's one of the reasons many states, including Texas, have open meeting laws. We want government business to be conducted in the open to prevent corruption. But a new idea in motoring technology that is making headlines currently has some wondering if the idea of transparency isn't being taken a bit too far.

Electronics giant Samsung calls it a solution that will improve safety, but considering that it essentially features a big-screen TV on the back of a semitractor-trailer it seems safe to ask whether it doesn't pose a risk of becoming yet another distraction for drivers that could result in serious injury-causing accidents.

On the face of things the idea seems fairly straightforward. Consider this scenario. You come up behind a slower-moving semi on a two-lane highway. You want to pass, but it's hard to know if it's safe.

Samsung's idea is to put a wireless camera on the front of the truck and beam the image of the road ahead onto a four-screen display on the back of the trailer. As the driver behind, you get a clear view of what's ahead and can feel more confident about when you can pass safely.

Samsung says it tested the concept in Argentina, which has a lot of two-lane highways and one of the highest rates of traffic accidents in the world, and it says it can work to save lives.

It doesn't have the necessary permits there yet. Nor is it expected to achieve permitted status in North America anytime soon, and at least one technology journalist suggests that's just as well. She says that while the intention is good, it seems like it would be a big distraction that might contribute to more accidents.

In her opinion, the move in the U.S. toward self-driving cars and trucks represents a better application of technology aimed at improving safety on the road.

Source: CBS News, "Could Samsung's "see-through" safety semi-truck prevent accidents?" Amanda Schupak, June 23, 2015

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