Could the choice of font used in your vehicle's front dash kill you? Potentially yes, say researchers. That sort of claim is going to require some explanation, so let's hop - err, drive - to it. The conclusion was reached thanks to the joint study conducted by AgeLab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Monotype Imaging Holding Inc., a typeface vendor. The goal was to see if certain fonts could require more time than others to read and comprehend.
The test utilized two different typefaces - one, a flat, "grotesque" font, the other more "humanist". I admit that I figured the "grotesque" font would be easier to read given its clean lines, but that wasn't the conclusion reached. Instead, the humanist font required 10.6% less visual demand. The number of glances required and response times followed similar patterns.
10.6% may not seem like much, but according to the researchers, this number could represent a distance of 50 feet if driving at highway speeds, which is rather significant. That could be the difference between being able to prevent an accident to being the one to cause it.
It could be - and should be - argued that people shouldn't have to look at their in-car dash at all while driving, but it goes without saying that sometimes it's unavoidable. If the typeface chosen can improve any chance of not being the victim of an accident, it sounds good to me. Will the automakers agree? That's a hard call - especially when sexiness and style sell vehicles.
One thing I can't help but wonder... what would the result have been if Comic Sans was introduced to the test?