Changing In-Vehicle Displays to Prevent Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April reminds motorists that distracted driving can be deadly. Drivers face an ever-increasing number of distractions in their vehicles. USA Today reported an increase in drivers manipulating handheld devices from .9 percent in 2010 to 1.3 percent in 2011. Cars are also frequently equipped with standard features like GPS or in-dash navigation and control systems, which drivers may focus on instead of the road. gps-directions-1-1198030-m.jpg

Despite the best efforts of safety advocates, thousands of people keep dying each year because of distracted drivers and many more are seriously injured. In 2011 alone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 3,328 fatalities and another 421,000 injuries caused by distracted drivers.

Our Asheville, NC accident lawyers represent individuals who are hurt by distracted drivers. Preventing these types of collisions may involve focusing on stopping the distracting behaviors like texting.

However, there is also another possible approach: Recognizing that people are going to use in-vehicle controls and other electronic systems and trying to reduce the dangers associated with these distractions. A recent article in the Washington Post outlined a possible a solution.

Could a Change in Typeface Save Your Life?

According to the Washington Post, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have been working with a company called Monotype to determine if changing the typefaces on in-vehicle media could make a difference in reducing the number of distracted driving crashes.

Changing the font on GPS navigation systems, music controls and other electronic devices could result in the driver looking away from the road for less time. In fact, a typeface test was conducted to determine if a different font would actually make a substantial difference.

Navigation screens contained text using two different kinds of typefaces. One of the types was in the humanist genre, which is supposed to be much easier to read. The other was grotesque type, which is standard on most equipment but when can be harder on the eyes.

Drivers in the simulation test were asked to look at text in the different fonts on a small navigation screen. They found that when the driver looked at the humanist typeface, he looked back at the road a full 50 feet before the driver looking at the screen with the grotesque typeface.

The positive results are a good sign that a simple change could make a difference in allowing people to stay more focused on the road in front of them. Since the population is aging and vision loss is a natural part of getting older, developments like this may have an even greater impact in the years to come.

Monotype has already released a protype of the humanist typeface, called Burlingame. Some car manufacturers are in discussions with the company to incorporate it into their in-vehicle systems. If this goes through and more widespread adoption occurs, perhaps lives could be saved as a result.

Contact the Asheville injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Officers warn against distracted driving, try to curb dangerous habit, April 4, 2014, By Bailey Hicks, WECT.com

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