The real life trolley problem

This is not from a philosophy article or a blog post, rather from Evansville, Indiana:

Deputies say the driver of a red Pontiac Grand Prix exited a curve and noticed the school bus stopped in the opposing lane when he veered into the front of the bus to avoid hitting the children crossing the street.

We’re told there were about 35 students on the bus at the time of the crash.

Thankfully, no one was reported hurt on the scene.

Here is the full story, and for the pointer I thank the excellent Mark Thorson.


lover boy was ever

dear f o, mobodies, i talk, 2u, 2nite . . .

big buck, cihimes in, 2 taLK 2 U

What would a google car have done?

Presumably have run down the kiddy-winkies if it suspected them of being future GOP voters.

Thank you 'killfile', thank you ever so much.

For those of you using Chrome you can use killfile to hide posts from troll posters.

Kudos to the Pontiac Grand Prix driver. Who was probably driving too fast, but risked his own life by hitting the bus and not the kids.

"Spock: Do not grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many, outweigh...
Kirk: The needs of the few.
Spock: Or the one. I never took the Kobayashi Maru test until now. What do you think of my solution?"

Live long and prosper Thiago.

I know you are prospering: Brazil 3 Argentina 0

Live long and prosper, Pshrnk.
I don't like to brag, bragging is antithetical to Brazilian character, but we crushed them on the soccer fields and we crushed them on the battlefields in the 1850's. If Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, it is no less true that yesterday's game was won a century and a half ago on the Argentinian and Paraguayan playing fields.

Vc makes a good point: your girl ain’t didlky sqaut. If it were a choice between her and the bus, she would have been toast, no question. The car driver made the right choice and I'm glad it was her and not me. Instinctively my first calculation is to follow the rules, which means not crossing the line into oncoming traffic. That line is there for a reason. If I had a few seconds to react I would have chosen the bus, but if it required a split-second decision I would have probably ploughed through the children, not because of malice toward children but because that line. You can't just cross it willy-nilly.

I think I would have veered into the bus.
I'm kind of a paranoid driver so I'm constantly calculating what to do in my head in situations like this as I'm driving. As a result, I've already inhibited the fear of crossing the line.
I also have really fast reflexive responses to threats posed by other drivers. Of course, sometimes being TOO paranoid can be bad, but I'm aware of that and have already factored that into how I calibrate my hypothetical-future-accident responses.

That probably makes daily driving a lot more fun: imagining a world of endless perils and how you would react to every conceivable calamity. For me, I just assume traffic laws are sufficient to prevent such things, if only everyone followed them. Just do what I'm doing and we'll all be fine. Then I become unglued when people don't follow the rules. I wonder if I would be more liberal if I used mass transit. Probably not. The first sight of someone laying across three seats and I would say, "There should be a rule against this sort of thing."

There is many training course, often required for professional drivers, that teach this mode of thinking called "Defensive Driving". Basically they tell you to assume that everyone on the road is an idiot and to be constantly scanning the road ahead and be able to react when someone does an idiotic thing. This includes watching out for pedestrians. I am not sure this is effective, but having done this course several times on the rare occasions I drive I find myself engaging in an internal dialogue exactly along these lines.

I agree that it's difficult to know what we'd do in similar situation. Those type of things happen so fast. If you don't practice them it's unlikely you'd know how you'll respond. Video games are good at highlighting some situations like this.

I would add it's not obvious what the correct solution was. If wreck smashes bus into ditch and into pond....

Of course the real bad decision may have been to have the bus stop right around the curve where an oncoming speeder would not have time to react after seeing the bus and kids. In making the decision you need to assume there will be speeders.

Agree. This is exactly the kind of think I would be thinking about if I was the bus driver - why the fuck am I stopping and unloading kids in a blind-spot for high-speed on-coming traffic?

Exactly this. Why in the world was a bus unloading children right around a blind curve?

Unless, of course, it turns out there was really plenty of distance and the car driver just wasn't paying attention.

Car drivers frequently don't pay attention. Gotta include that in your plan.

I refuse to recognize the existence of a trolley problem unless there is a fat man I am being asked to kill.

I tried the fat man variation out on my 3-year old to see what she would say. Her response: "I'd push that fat man....he'd go splat!". I think she may be a sociopath.

I think being a sociopath is an important developmental milestone for little kids. I'd introduce my same-aged son to the fat-man trolly problem but I don't want him to start pushing me toward traffic.

Are you thinking about this kid?

This kid chose the solution to minimize inequality.


This is exactly what I would have answered.

There is no trolley problem.

"""Why Mercedes' decision to let its self-driving cars kill pedestrians is probably the right thing to do"""

If the pedestrians are in points of danger, their life expectancy are already low. If you dont hit them the many cars behind you might hit them. By suddendly veering to avoid them you might veering into on coming traffics and killing more people.

Beside that,

"""The Copyright Office: "Allow circumvention of TPMs [technological protection measures] protecting computer programs that control the functioning of a motorized land vehicle, including personal automobiles, commercial motor vehicles, and agricultural machinery, for purposes of lawful diagnosis and repair, or aftermarket personalization, modification, or other improvement. Under the exemption as proposed, circumvention would be allowed when undertaken by...the lawful owner of the vehicle." """

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