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Reducing distracted driving by better fonts?

Texting while driving is incredibly dangerous and, unfortunately, it is a behavior that is on the rise. Even the most careful of drivers in Pittsburgh can cause a serious accident if they are distracted. Not only are they putting their lives and safety at risk, but also everyone else on the road. Though they may not intend to cause a crash, if their negligence causes one, they can be held responsible.

While many states have enacted a texting or even a handheld phone ban, it does not appear to deter many drivers. This is why some companies are looking to come up with ways to reduce the amount of time individuals are looking away from the road to use their electronic devices. By focusing on font and spacing, some designers think they can reduce distraction.

And, according to a study, it seems that they have been successful, at least with male drivers. Male drivers spend less time reading text when it appears in a humanist typeface instead of a grotesque typeface. Essentially, the typeface uses unambiguous forms, sufficient space between letters, open shapes, and variable proportions for letters or numbers like zero and "o."

Although improving readability will certainly get people to spend less time texting while driving or using electronics instead of watching the road, it still allows for people to take their eyes off the road. Sometimes accidents happen in a matter of seconds, so saying that it is ok to be distracted, just as long as a driver is not too distracted, may not be of much help.

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

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