Samsung Safety Truck
July 8, 2015 3:26 AM   Subscribe

"In Argentina, a person dies in a car accident almost every hour. 80% of those happen on roads, often when cars are attempting to overtake another vehicle. In a country with hundreds of one-lane roads, large transport trucks that obstruct views ahead can cause many dangerous overtake situations. In an attempt to reduce the danger, Samsung thought maybe a built-in wireless camera broadcasting to TV displays on the back of the truck would let drivers know when it was safe to pass." [slyt] [via]
posted by ellieBOA (28 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
In Argentina, a person dies in a car accident almost every hour. 80% of those happen on roads...

I do not even want to know about the other 20 percent.
posted by Etrigan at 3:41 AM on July 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


I don't think a view on a television screen is good enough for the intended usage.

(also I did not see any one lane roads in that video)
posted by ryanrs at 3:49 AM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


large transport trucks that obstruct views ahead can cause many dangerous overtake situations

No they can't. A driver overtaking can cause a dangerous overtake situation. A truck can't on its own.

This speaks to how driving behaviour, and therefore safety, is a matter of social norms. It's clearly socially normal for people to kill themselves while trying to drive faster on the road than is safe. The question perhaps should be "how can we change this social norm?" rather than "how can we ameliorate this dangerous social norm?"

Or then again, maybe it shouldn't. Road safety is very interesting, complex, political, and arouses strong passions. But the language used is interesting because it sheds light on how we regard driving and risk in a very personal way.
posted by alasdair at 4:01 AM on July 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


Interesting idea, but what would be Samsung's liability in this if someone used the screen to overtake and still got involved in an accident, maybe by not seeing a cyclist/motorcyclist or other potentially low visibility object? Also, asking as a non-driver, would these screens be distracting to other drivers? Would you feel compelled to look at them instead of the rest of the road?
posted by along came the crocodile at 4:01 AM on July 8, 2015


DON'T HIT THE GAS
OR SLAM THE BRAKES
WE'LL TELL YOU WHEN
TO OVERTAKE.
SAM-SUNG.

posted by Joe in Australia at 4:02 AM on July 8, 2015 [21 favorites]


I see this as a practical way to alleviate accidents. There's an instinctive need for many drivers to be faster than someone else, and it's universal, especially when you're on open roads like in the video. I know I wouldn't wanna be stuck behind a truck on a one lane road like that; road safety is one thing, but usually you have somewhere to be.

The issue with the screen being distracting is a good point, but what's nice is that because you can see in front of the truck, you can assume how the truck driver will behave and hopefully know when to keep your distance. I take advantage of being able to see through the windshields of the car in front of me as often as I can to predict their behaviors. I wouldn't mind if large SUVs have this either, as they're just as obstructive as a semi.

The only issue is, like ryanrs said, the screen might not be clear enough. Certainly a deer or a pedestrian can definitely be overlooked. And if you're approaching a hill or a blind curve, it's still dangerous even if you can see in front of the truck.
posted by numaner at 4:25 AM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I assume Samsung owns the patent on this idea, right?
posted by double block and bleed at 5:00 AM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Interesting idea, but what would be Samsung's liability in this if someone used the screen to overtake and still got involved in an accident, maybe by not seeing a cyclist/motorcyclist or other potentially low visibility object?

I suppose it would depend on the specifics of the case, the country and judges involved. IANAL, but my reading of it is... in Key v. Hamilton a truck driver who erroneously waved a car through an intersection (which then subsequently struck a motorcyclist who had right of way) was found to share liability with the car driver, because by choosing to signal the car to pass he had assumed a duty of care to the motorcyclist passing him.

But in Gilmer v. Ellington a car driver who waved another car through (who then subsequently struck a motorcyclist who had right of way) was NOT found liable, because by law and common sense a person cannot waive the right of way of any motorist other than himself.

By that interpretation the Samsung truck can enter a communication / transaction with the driver behind him about matters between them, but the Samsung truck cannot speak on behalf of motorists coming in the other direction, and so cannot by found liable for any accidents between them. Under the first interpretation, Samsung is choosing to assume a duty of care over every single car in the opposite lane and is thus liable for any accidents which might occur. I suppose we'll know when it gets tested in court...
posted by xdvesper at 5:03 AM on July 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


I assume Samsung owns the patent on this idea, right?

Well, they own tv factories and make trucks and were brainstorming cross-marketing opportunities.
posted by ryanrs at 5:04 AM on July 8, 2015


Unfortunately, risk compensation.
posted by parudox at 5:07 AM on July 8, 2015


I like the idea but I trust that this Samsung screen doesn't ever experience freezes or lags, not even during the inevitable software updates, unlike certain other big TV screens I can think of.

I also trust you can't run the popular 'road' screensavers on these things.
posted by Ashenmote at 5:12 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


With the failure of the Galaxy S6, Samsung was in desperate need of this type of good news story!
posted by fairmettle at 5:17 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


After being driven around Buenos Aires for a week, I would suggest stop signs. Except for the largest ones, each intersection was a live game of Frogger.

Also: the other 20%
posted by pjenks at 5:36 AM on July 8, 2015


So I've done a lot of questionable passing maneuvers in my life. The way I did it was to fall back a couple hundred feet, then accelerate towards the truck, generally with one wheel over the centerline to keep a good view. Then, as I neared the point of no return, I either hit the brakes and aborted the pass, or moved over fully and completed the pass very quickly. You can do very snappy passes this way.

I don't think I've ever felt that visibility around trucks was an issue. It was always much more about judging the speed and distance of oncoming traffic, which is probably impossible when watching on a tv screen.
posted by ryanrs at 5:40 AM on July 8, 2015


We interrupt this overtaking manoeuvre for a short commercial break...
posted by Lanark at 5:44 AM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


This speaks to how driving behaviour, and therefore safety, is a matter of social norms.

Yep. The reason nearly 1000 people die in Illinois every year on the roads, and that almost 9000 die in Argentina on the roads, is that this death rate is perfectly acceptable to these societies. You would see a massive transformation in these societies if they weren't.

Witness the massive transformation that happened after 11-Sep-2001, for example. Never mind that we've killed, oh, five times as many people on Illinois roads since then.

And given that the population of Argentina is 42M, and the population of Illinois is 12M, well, Argentina isn't *that* much more dangerous to drive in, when you think about it. You have about a 2.6x increased risk of dying on an Argentinian road than an Illinois road.

Really, that's it? Either Argentina isn't that dangerous a place to drive, or Illinois is a much more dangerous place to drive than I thought.

It was always much more about judging the speed and distance of oncoming traffic, which is probably impossible when watching on a tv screen.

Yep. This really sounds like a solution looking for a problem. Then again, it may be that in Argentina, a large fraction of fatal accidents happen when people are passing trucks on narrow roads.
posted by eriko at 6:02 AM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


'Duty of care' was the phrase I was looking for. I'm sure Samsung wouldn't have launched this without covering themselves legally, but the ad does feel like it's saying 'you can trust us to tell you when you should overtake.'

Actually, this would be a very Gibsonian way to assassinate someone. Hacking the feed to show clear road at exactly the wrong moment so that your target drives straight into oncoming traffic.
posted by along came the crocodile at 6:28 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


road safety is one thing, but usually you have somewhere to be.

I would feel better if you took a moment to just really consider whether you're willing to stand behind this statement. Maybe replace the phrase "road safety" with the more direct "continuing to be alive" and see if that affects your feelings at all.
posted by bracems at 6:31 AM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wonder what happens if you have a whole bunch of Samsung trucks traveling in a row and precisely spaced so each camera is pointing at the next video screen...or a spider walks across the camera....
posted by inflatablekiwi at 6:42 AM on July 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


They're also working on a feature that digitally replaces oncoming vehicles with Samsung products.

"There's a Samsung Galaxy 6S Edge headed your way! DON'T PASS up this hot new phone!"
posted by orme at 6:46 AM on July 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


On long road trips I would just stick behind the truck and let the kids watch the drivin' movie.
posted by Kabanos at 6:55 AM on July 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Seems to me that it would be more useful to have a screen that said "Chillax, there's a pulley-outey $DISTANCE_COUNTDOWN ahead and I will pull in and let you by then," where $DISTANCE is never more than, say, 2 km. Also they should probably have it in the local language(s). Also probably it shouldn't command chillaxment.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:06 AM on July 8, 2015


Maybe replace the phrase "road safety" with the more direct "continuing to be alive" and see if that affects your feelings at all.

Nope, if I can safely pass somebody to get to where I need to be faster, I'll take that risk.
posted by numaner at 8:46 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


To my way of thinking this is more like a cloaking device for the truck than a distraction. If the optics are right all a driver from behind would see is a set of wheels, a bumper and a license plate and just above that an unobstructed view of the road ahead.

Of course the advertisements will give it away, but still.
posted by three blind mice at 8:49 AM on July 8, 2015


And given that the population of Argentina is 42M, and the population of Illinois is 12M, well, Argentina isn't *that* much more dangerous to drive in, when you think about it. You have about a 2.6x increased risk of dying on an Argentinian road than an Illinois road.

Really, that's it? Either Argentina isn't that dangerous a place to drive, or Illinois is a much more dangerous place to drive than I thought.


Were Argentina a US state, you'd be reasonably correct. But turns out it's a totally different country, with it's own laws and development level! This system address deaths caused on roads to people driving on them, which means that the population is not particularly relevant; what's relevant is the exposure to the risk.

There are about 800 vehicles per 1000 residents in Illinois - low for the US - and about 300 per 1000 in Argentina. In Argentina, most of those vehicles are in Buenos Aires (it has a much higher auto ownership rate than the rest of the country, since it's wealthier) and don't drive on two lane rural roads all that much. In Illinois, auto ownership is pretty flat across the state - lower in the city of Chicago (~450 per 1000 residents) and higher everywhere else, which means that a car in Illinois likely drives more than one in Argentina. (Argentina has a much better bus system than the US midwest, to boot.)

Once you account for the vastly fewer miles driven on Argentinian roads, you're closer to 10x the death rate of Illinois. Which seems fairly dangerous to me.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:47 AM on July 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I really don't get the snark on this one, don't suspect Samsung of having nefarious shadowy side purposes, and definitely don't think this is useless, or "a solution looking for a problem."

One-lane road, in this context, means "one lane per direction." There are parts of the road that will be marked where you can pass with reasonable safety (long enough field of view of oncoming traffic). There are parts that will be marked as "don't even think of sticking your nose into the next lane."

There will always be people ignoring these markings.

Some of those roads will be in the open plain where they are built that way because of lack of development funds (or infrastructure overhaul funds). Some of them will be built as roads in and out of mountains, with a sheer cliff to the side typically, because no you can't tunnel through the entire Taurus Mountain range [1] and can't blast into the cliff-side too deeply without having to bring down large, large amounts of rock for every yard of road.

People will try to pass and die on those roads, too.

These trucks won't stop the accidents completely. The person who'll try to pass while they can't see over a hill they are approaching will still try to pass when the truck's camera can't see over the same hill, too. But they will stop maybe one in ten, and that's good enough when you consider that it's not always the stupid-passing-attempt-maker who dies---the oncoming traffic is blameless, and often helpless.

I've been driving on the US Interstate System for 15 years, too, and if you're basing your "unnecessary solution" remark on that system, please... just don't.



[1] Not a random example. Not a secondhand-experience one, either.
posted by seyirci at 1:33 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


We drove 2 lane roads across Brazil for 4 days, and passed 10x more semis than I expect I'll pass on 2 lane roads in the rest of my life in the US. There's a convention there that the truck notices you back there, waits for a safe passing spot, and signals with its left turn signal.

Didn't feel entirely safe to me (why should I trust some truck driver who doesn't know how fast my car can accellerate and may have been driving for many hours, and what if a truck decided to take a left turn), but it was very effective. I wonder if this is done in Argentina?
posted by joeyh at 7:02 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I spent a summer (well, my summer, their winter) as an exchange student in Argentina in the late 80's, in Comodoro Rivadavia, and the car-culture-shock was profound. I remember getting in a car with a bunch of school friends, only to find there were no seat belts in the back seat, and how everyone else just shrugged it off, like, my concern was just another strange exchange student thing. And in the city, instead of speed bumps they had speed...trenches? Like, an inverted speed bump, so that the driver had to come to a complete stop at the intersection lest they wreck their undercarriage. But once they got through the stop/trench, they would speed up madly until they were forced to slow down for the next one. It was like, they had to have fascist traffic control, because they would just plow right through red lights if they thought they could make it.

This was nearly 30 years ago, but, I guess things haven't changed much going by the statistics.
posted by oh yeah! at 10:14 PM on July 9, 2015


« Older You Get One Minute. Use It Well.   |   'They thought I just sit on my ass all day and... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments