Can a typeface change improve distracted driving hazards?

We have written previously about the hazards of distracted driving. We have also written about various efforts within the tech industry, the automobile manufacturing industry, the government and safety organizations to curtail this practice. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that unless lawmakers completely outlaw interaction with any kind of personal electronic device and dashboard technology while driving that motorists will continue to engage in distracted driving behaviors. And it is possible that they will do so even if this behavior is completely outlawed.

As a result, many businesses and organizations are trying to figure out numerous ways to minimize the distracting nature of various devices. The logic behind this innovation is that some motorists may choose to interact with personal electronic devices, dashboard technology and other distracting technology no matter what. But if innovations can somehow lead distracted drivers to become less distracted, some lives may be spared as a result.

Most recently, some designers have been questioning whether a relatively simplistic change to dashboard technology may help to reduce the distracting nature of these interactive devices. The longer that motorists keep their eyes on a device and off the road, the more they risk accidents. If the typefaces used on these devices are more easily readable, perhaps motorists will be able to get their eyes back on the road more quickly.

This is a particularly intriguing idea given that an increasing number of elderly drivers are choosing to drive well into their golden years. This kind of typeface change could benefit them, younger drivers with poor eyesight and anyone else who chooses to drive while distracted, even for a moment.

Source: The Washington Post, “A remarkably small idea that could reduce distracted driving,” Emily Badger, April 7, 2014

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