Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Driver-Friendly Text

PostedOctober 7, 2012

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Anchor Lede: Drivers aren’t only distracted by text on mobile devices…but also from within their cars.

Randy Atkins: Our dashboards have more and more text to read – from radio station lists to navigation instructions. Bryan Reimer, of the M-I-T AgeLab, asked drivers to find an address on a list and timed eye diversion.

Bryan Reimer: The effects were far larger than we would have expected between two different typeface styles among male drivers.

Randy Atkins: The effects were much more modest among women. One commonly-used font delayed men about ten-percent longer than another.

Bryan Reimer: That’s a lot of difference in the time looking down off the road.

Randy Atkins: More open character design and spacing helps.

Bryan Reimer: A “3” can look awful like an “8” or it can look far different than an “8.”

Randy Atkins: Reimer says it’s a low-cost solution to a small part of the driver distraction problem. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.