Study Shows That Car Dashboards Can Be Quite Distractive

September 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Car Safety

Several safety advocates have become concerned with a factor that has often been associated with auto incidents.

According to the news, a study has demonstrated that, most of the time, drivers can be easily distracted while trying to read the typeface of the onboard navigation systems of their vehicles. Because of that, researchers decided to look into navigation systems, their interface and how their fonts interfere with driver’s attention.

MIT AgeLab combined forces with Monotype to perform this study and look into this issue. According to the researches, two different types of typefaces on dashboards have been studied. The two navigation systems require visual menus and both are equipped with touch screen technology, read maps, GPS etc. According to this study, if the font is simply too hard to read, the driver will be distracted more often.

Also according to the study, if a dashboard is too hard to read, the driver will be more likely to be involved in an accident. It’s been reported that one of the most common typefaces on car dashboards is what some researchers called ‘square grotesque’, which is more demanding when it comes to having drivers reading the words on the car’s navigation system. The second most popular font is a more ‘humanist’ typeface, which resulted in a lower visual demand, according to the study.

Since the humanist font is 10.6% more likely to offer the driver a much easier read, drivers would be much safer by having this type of typeface on their dashboards as opposed to the ‘square grotesque’ option. According to the study, the time the driver uses to read the dashboard that uses the squared typeface corresponds to about 50 feet in distance while traveling at highway speed.

Yet another interesting discovery researchers found is that, although the different types of fonts affected how men drove, the two different types of fonts did not alter mush of the focus of women drivers. According to the researchers, cars with dashboard typeface that are closer to the ‘humanist’ format are easier for men to read because the letters are much more recognizable since there’s more space inside and between each letter.

Since squared letters have a much tighter letter spacing, the letters and subsequent words tend to blur together, which may increase ambiguity and make drivers less aware of what the dashboard is saying without actually focusing on each word.

Researchers believe that by optimizing the typeface design on new car dashboards, some distractions could be reduced and drivers would, in return, drive more safely.

For more on this research, click here for the full article.

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