Conference Proceeding

Is Driving Simulation a Viable Method for Examining Drivers' Ethical Choices? An Exploratory Study

  • Anuj Pradhan (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
  • Heejin Jeong (University of Michigan)
  • Brittany Ross (University of Michigan)


Advanced vehicle technologies promise improved road safety but may still be subjected to situations where choices have to be made regarding safety impact to other road users. There is debate about the principles that should guide the programming of choices into automation algorithms, and an acknowledgment that choices made by automation may be subject to more scrutiny than those by humans. To better understand the landscape of decisions that human drivers encounter, it is important to examine the rationale, calculus, and motivations behind such choices. While there are various methods to examine human decision making, doing so in an ecologically valid manner is challenging, especially in this context of driving. To that end, this study was conducted to examine if driving simulation could help understand drivers’ ethical choices. Participants drove a route in a driving simulator that was programmed to end in a crash situation, one that placed the driver in a position of choosing between two crash outcomes. Participants were asked, after the fact, about their perceptions of the simulation and their decisions. Results indicate that drivers generally accepted simulation as realistic, but their post-experiment choices did not align with their actual decisions during the drive. Findings may have implications for the experimental study of ethical behaviors.

How to Cite:

Pradhan, A. & Jeong, H. & Ross, B., (2019) “Is Driving Simulation a Viable Method for Examining Drivers' Ethical Choices? An Exploratory Study”, Driving Assessment Conference 10(2019), 106-112. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2019 the author(s)

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Published on
25 Jun 2019
Peer Reviewed