Thursday, October 25, 2012

Typeface Can Improve Driver Safety, Study Finds

With more and more in-vehicle screens and devices at drivers’ fingertips comes increased potential for distraction while driving. A new study set out to determine whether a change in typeface used in these devices could reduce driver distraction and, thus, improve safety on the road.

“The study indicates that the right typefaces can make a difference in reducing the amount of time not focused on the road, and therefore, gets us closer to our goal of improving driver safety,” says MIT AgeLab’s Bryan Reimer, one of the project’s principle researchers.

Legibility Typeface Comparison Illustration

(Graphic courtesy Steve Matteson, Monotype Imaging)

The results indicate a consistent 10% reduction among men in glance time—the time looking away from the road. The difference observed in women was smaller. When driving at highway speeds, a driver can travel about 50 ft during that time.

“This difference in glance time represents approximately 50 ft in distance when traveling at U.S. highway speed,” says David Gould, Monotype’s director of product marketing and part of the research team. “Although we've only scratched the surface and more typeface studies need to be done, we see this as a call to action for auto manufacturers, their suppliers and safety standards bodies to recognize that typeface style can represent a critical element of the driving experience."

A white paper detailing the research can be downloaded from MIT AgeLab’s website, and a video summarizes the results.