Another Approach to Distracted Driving
By Michael Verna on May 01, 2016
As many readers know, distracted driving continues to be a main concern among safety advocates and transportation agencies. Of course, the explosion of technology has caused the problem to become more and more prevalent. The practice is linked to several car accidents each year. Yet, what if we thought about the issue from a different perspective?
We could push the war on cellphone devices and aim to get people to eliminate mobile devices, GPS systems and other distractions behind the wheel. After all, handheld cellphone use and texting while driving is illegal in California. On the other hand, we could just embrace the fact that motorists will probably continue to engage in dangerous habits while driving. If we choose the later, perhaps we could try to alleviate the harm instead of preventing it.
Americans would be fooling themselves if they thought for one second that vehicles are done advancing in terms of technology. The same goes for phones. Every year, cars gain complex and flashy features, which make in-car displays and similar devices even more distracting. Now, vehicles essentially come equipped with tablets in the dashboards. Instead of fighting a losing battle, what if Americans reduced the duration of particular distractions?
An attempt at a safer, less distractive font
A couple of years back, Monotype and MIT AgeLab began to look at whether the typeface in in-car devices would make a difference. Based on simulations, research resolved that motorists - especially male drivers - removed their eyes from the road for much less time when the text on the car's navigation screen was in a font form of what's known as the "humanist genre." According to the study, when humanist was used in comparison to standard typefaces, this resulted in a significant drop in distracted driving time.
Since the discovery, Monotype has been working on a new typeface, called Burlingame, which is designed specifically with the distracted driving concern in mind. It is intended for in-car displays and other technological devices.
Font type is usually not even within the genre of transportation safety. It seems like an irrelevant issue. However, former research from the early 2000s supports the importance of typography. During that time, the Federal Highway Administration worked with font designers and researchers at Pennsylvania State University to test a particular typeface, which is now used by several states on highway signs. In the previous studies, motorists were able to recognize signs with the specific font in the night at much further distances than signs with other font types.
Distracted driving accidents
In the end, it is probably best to eliminate distracted driving altogether. However, as technology continues to evolve, this will be very difficult.
At the minimum, it is safe to say that motorists have the duty to be alert and engaged behind the wheel, and distracted driving is not helping. If you are a person that has been injured in a car accident by an inattentive or careless driver, speak with an attorney about your options. You may receive assistance for medical expenses and other financial issues that result from a car crash.