From Trolley to Autonomous Vehicle: Perceptions of Responsibility and Moral Norms in Traffic Accidents with Self-Driving Cars
Autonomous vehicles represent a new class of transportation that may be qualitatively different from existing cars. Two online experiments assessed lay perceptions of moral norms and responsibility for traffic accidents involving autonomous vehicles. In Experiment 1, 120 US adults read a narrative describing a traffic incident between a pedestrian and a motorist. In different experimental conditions, the pedestrian, the motorist, or both parties were at fault. Participants assigned less responsibility to a self-driving car that was at fault than to a human driver who was at fault. Participants confronted with a self-driving car at fault allocated greater responsibility to the manufacturer and the government than participants who were confronted with a human driver at fault did.