Drivers of partially automated vehicles are blamed for crashes that they cannot reasonably avoid

News - 04 October 2022 - Communication

People seem to hold the human driver to be primarily responsible when their partially automated vehicle crashes. But is this reasonable?

Researchers Niek Beckers, Luciano Cavalcante Siebert, Merijn Bruijnes, Catholijn Jonker & David Abbink from the AiTech initiative investigated the apparent mismatch between the public’s attribution of blame and finding from the human factors literature regarding human’s ability to remain vigilant in partially automated driving. Participants of the experiment blamed the driver primarily for crashes, even though they recognized the driver’s decreased ability to avoid them. Their findings have been published in Nature Portfolio Scientific Reports.

David Abbink: "The imbalance between well-known human factors insights regarding driver-automation interaction, and the participant’s responsibility attributions reveals a culpability gap. In this culpability gap, responsibility is not reasonably distributed over the involved human agents: the driver receives most blame, yet this may be unreasonable given their impacted ability to change the outcome."
 Luciano Calvacante Siebert: "This is a nice example of interdisciplinary research. . It was a great collaboration with an amazing team!"

You can read the full paper (open access) here: