MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota. While we are likely years away from seeing driverless vehicles on the road in Minneapolis, researchers are currently studying beliefs about car accidents and driverless cars. A study recently published in Science, evaluates beliefs regarding how driverless vehicles should behave in an accident scenario and beliefs regarding government regulation. Researchers have presented study participants with scenarios in which a single passenger is riding in a driverless car and the car encounters pedestrians on the road. The car can either strike a wall, sacrificing the driverless car passenger, or strike the pedestrians. According to CNN, the results were interesting. While study participants told researchers that the cars should be programmed to save the most lives—in this case, the pedestrians’ lives, study participants also noted that they would not want to own or purchase a car so programmed.
The results make sense. In theory, we always like the idea of choosing the option that saves the most lives. When theory becomes reality, and when the life being sacrificed is our own, theory goes out the window in favor of self-preservation. 81% of study participants said they wanted to purchase a driverless car that would protect them at all costs.
This creates an interesting situation for programmers. When drivers are behind the wheel, they make many split-second decisions. It isn’t always clear what a human driver would do in a scenario where they had to choose between hitting pedestrians or hitting a wall. Yet, when drivers don’t have the choice in a driverless vehicle, the question becomes much more significant, because programming becomes a kind of policy. Will the government regulate how cars are programmed? Will these regulations impact personal injury law in any way? The Law Office of Martin T. Montilino is watching this closely.
When the researchers asked participants whether they would buy a driverless car if government regulations required the cars to be programmed to always save the greatest number of people, individuals said they would not buy the driverless car. After all, many consumers buy cars based on safety. Families have an interest in protecting their children and loved ones, and it is well known that parents will choose to protect their children over strangers in many similar hypothetical scenarios.
Law professors and experts claim that regulation is likely the only way to ensure that driverless vehicles are programmed to protect the greatest number of people. Otherwise, consumers will probably pressure companies to program their vehicles to protect the passengers.
The questions are fascinating because they involve moral questions, questions of self-preservation, psychology, and the law. As it stands, we live in a world where every individual driver’s actions behind the wheel matter. We hold drivers accountable by requiring that they face sanctions when they are careless or make mistakes. If you’re been in a crash due to another driver’s negligence or neglect, visit https://www.martinmontilino.com today to learn more.