A new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab found that some types of dashboard screen fonts result in a longer glance time, taking the driver’s attention away from the road and possibly increasing the risks of being involved in an accident. Other types of fonts are easier to read and take less attention away from the road.
The researchers concluded that tweaking screen typeface in order to make screen text more legible and easy-to-read could help reduce the risks of being involved in a distracted driving accident.
The research was conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab and researchers from the New England Transportation Research Center. The researchers also collaborated with Monotype Imaging Holdings, a typeface provider. They then used eye tracking techniques to measure glance time when participants looked at 2 types of typeface on the screen.
One of the fonts was a humanist font with character shapes that were easily distinguished from each other, while the other was a “square grotesque” style that had tightly spaced characters.
The researchers found that there was a reduction of 10.6% in glance time, when the participants were looking at a screen that had the humanist font. According to the study, that reduction in glance time translates into roughly 50 feet of travel on the road. That is more than enough time for an accident to occur.
From the results of this research, it seems that changes to the typeface of in-car text could help reduce distractions on the road. Since in-car text isn’t going away anytime soon, it makes sense to make it easier to read, and therefore less distracting.