One of the big safety issues when it comes to HGVs (and other large vehicles) and smaller vehicles on the road together is the issue of overtaking and the relative danger associated with going past a long truck, particularly on single lane highways.
We know the problem, HGV drives along at its fixed speed while the faster moving car trails behind, keen to overtake and be on its way. However, the driver of the car either feels stuck through not being able to see past the truck to check for traffic that may be coming in the opposite direction or, taking a huge risk by pulling blindly out to go for the overtake; the cause of many a serious accident on roads across the world.
And it’s this potentially fatal safety issue which has prompted Korean technology company Samsung to dip their toe in the HGV market with their prototype safety truck.
How it Works
Sometimes good ideas really do seem like the simplest – why didn’t I think of that? – ones. Like the rubber on the end of a pencil.
Or by turning the rear of a truck into a giant video monitor.
Samsung have done exactly this; by attaching a camera to the front of the truck which films road ahead and beams via wireless real-time images of the road ahead onto the monitor at the back. This, theoretically, allows for the cars and other vehicles driving behind the lorry to have a clear (albeit slightly virtual) view of each lane of the road and affording them the chance to react more promptly and safely to whatever situation may arise. For those looking to overtake, it offers the drivers a view to check for a clear stretch of road. In addition it lets the drivers understand what is in front of the HGV and thus could provide valuable split-seconds to react to emergency braking or similar.
At the moment the Samsung safety truck remains a prototype with promise rather than a reality of the road. The vehicle has been used in trials on the notoriously dangerous roads of Argentina – a country with an unwelcome reputation for high levels of traffic accidents.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
It certainly seems like a good idea and a sensible use of modern technology to try and solve a real and life-altering problem. At the end of the day, anything that contributes to safer roads, reduced accidents and fewer fatalities then it can only be a good thing to explore.
Nevertheless, there certainly appears to be some potential hazards inherent in the technology itself that one would want to be reassured by before it could ‘go live’ on the roads and motorways.
The first potential alarm bell, given that we are using Wi-Fi technology and digital monitors, is what happens if the connection freezes, gets delayed or crashes? Would there be the potential for cars behind to get a false image of the current state of the road ahead?
This would really only need to happen once for the trust in the technology to be lost and undermining the entire system. Furthermore, if the monitor or connection does get damaged at all or fails to work, would the driver be aware or in a position to do anything about it?
Another issue that introducing a large monitor onto the road may potentially bring would be the idea that it, in itself, could become a distraction to other drivers. If you are behind an HGV with a video wall is there not the possibility that you end up becoming so engrossed with what’s on the monitor that you lose concentration on the rest of your A