By: Allan M. Siegel
Driverless car technology is expected to help prevent thousands of accidents
by removing the factor of human error. But what happens when we leave
moral decisions up to a computer? In the event of an impending collision,
should self-driving technology preference the safety of its passengers
over the safety of pedestrians, or vice versa? That was the question that
was recently considered as part of a study conducted by three researchers
based in the U.S. and France. The study argues how driverless cars respond
to ethical dilemmas will likely dictate their public safety and how widely
they are adopted by consumers.
Should a Driverless Car Protect its Passengers at All Costs?
In a twist on the “trolley problem,” a classic scenario in
psychological debates, the study presented participants with hypothetical
situations in which a fatal crash was unavoidable and asked them how they
felt the vehicle should react. Out of 2,000 people surveyed for the study,
the majority of people responded that they felt the car should react in
the most utilitarian way possible – in other words, in a way which
would save the most lives (even if this meant that they or their passengers
would be sacrificed to do so). However, on a willingness-to-buy scale,
81 percent felt that they would ultimately prefer to purchase a driverless
car that would preserve the lives of passengers at all costs.
Interestingly, participants also indicated that they would be less likely
to purchase a self-driving car if the government mandated utilitarian
programming that could potentially compromise the safety of a passenger
in an unavoidable crash situation. This study has shown that the “not
in my backyard” dilemma extends to autonomous vehicles – people
want society and manufacturers to do the right thing, but not at their
expense. This inconsistency could be a bump in the road when it comes
to the transition to autonomous vehicles. Manufacturers will likely be
more successful selling self-protective versions of their vehicles in
the absence of government regulations.
Protecting Your Rights After a Car Accident
Autonomous vehicles will certainly change how America drives. While they
will likely dramatically decrease accidents, it is important to remember
that no technology is perfect. If you’ve been hurt in a car accident
in Washington DC, Maryland, or Virginia, turn to Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata
& Siegel, P.C. to consult with a Washington DC car accident lawyer
about pursuing compensation.
Call our office today at (202) 644-8303 to schedule a complimentary case