Driving research news

Difficult-to-read fonts can increase chances of accidents

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have been studying causes of car accidents. Nothing new there, thenů except the scientists believe the type of font used for signage within a vehicle can be a factor in the chances of a driver suffering a collision and having to make a car accident claim.

The MIT team suggests that drivers are becoming more reliant on "at-a-glance" information, visible inside the cabin of a car, presented on items such as radios, sat-navs, and on the dashboard itself, and that ease of reading is an important factor in motoring safety.

The University's Age Lab looked at different fonts and, by using 82 volunteers in driving simulators, revealed that the subtle nuances in the character formations could alter reaction times in users.

The team used two outwardly similar fonts, Eurostile (AKA square grotesque) and Frutiger in the study.

Women exhibited little difference in ability to process information written in both fonts, but male drivers processed messages more slowly when reading the Eurostile font.

David Gould, a director of product marketing, said, "Across both experiments, it's very notable that the two different testing conditions showed a lowering of visual demand of around 10.6 per cent among the men.

"This difference in glance time represents approximately 50 feet in distance when travelling at U.S. highway speed."

Although this research is in its infancy, scientists hope that by finding the best font for ease of recognition behind the wheel more road traffic collisions could be averted and the number of car accident claims resulting from personal injury accidents could be reduced.



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