The Wrong Typeface Can Kill You. Unless You Are A Woman

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Researchers at MIT’s AgeLab finally have proven what designers have long suspected: Some typefaces are easier to read than others. Because this would be a boring message, and because the New England University Transportation Center and typeface vendor Monotype were also involved in the study, the researchers put it in context with in-dash menus. And came to the conclusion that the choice of typeface is a matter of life and death.

Bad: Eurostyle

A white paper released recently reports about two studies which found that the Eurostyle typeface commonly used in many vehicle device displays takes more time to read than the more elegant “humanist” style typeface. The blockier Eurostyle was traditionally preferred in electronic display because it did not break up as easily at lower resolutions.

Good: Humanist

Among men, a “humanist” typeface resulted in a 10.6% lower visual demand. To make it, um, more eye-catching, researchers said this “difference in glance time represents approximately 50 feet in distance when traveling at U.S. highway speed.” Which, says IT World could be the difference between a close call and an injury — or worse.

Oddly enough, the “impact of different typeface style was either more modest or not apparent for women,” says the study.

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  • Maintainer Maintainer on Sep 27, 2012

    I haven't paid attention to the "font" in any of my vehicles ever. I prefer white face "gages" and know that in my current ride that 3000 rpm steady on flat Illinois Highways in 5th is 70 mph (yes, I'm courteous enough to hang out in the right lane).

  • Zackman Zackman on Sep 27, 2012

    Does a typeface annoy and distract me? Sometimes, but I generally adapt to anything pretty quick - the key to survival and a low-stress life. The movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" prominently highlighted the Eurostyle font, also called "Microgramma". I liked it and thought it was very technical and modern. I really like Helvetica, too, as JCPenney loves to use. Arial? Yes, I default to it on all my e-mail settings because it is so easy to read. One of my graphic arts teachers taught us: "When in doubt, use Caslon"! Sometimes that works, too. The only thing that irks me, no matter what typestyle, is when auto name and alpha-numeric emblems are affixed crooked. I'm looking with aching eyes at you, last-gen Camry! Glad Toyota fixed that.

  • Alan I do believe that traffic infringements penalties based on income will affect those who are financial able to flout safety regulations.When I drive above the posted speed limit I assess my situation using probability. If I'm confronted with a situation where time is of more value to me than speed I will speed if I assess the probability of a fine to be quite low. I can afford the fine, what I can't afford is the loss of points on my drivers licence.In Australia (12 points in QLD and all States have a point system) we have a points system attached to your drivers licence. An open drivers licence is granted 12 points every 3 years. So, if you receive an infringement for exceeding the speed limit it takes 3 years for the points to be removed. I generally get caught once every 2 years.I think a points system would be a fairer system over a system based on income. Its about retaining your licence and safety, not financial gain by the government.As you can see below it wouldn't take long for many US drivers to lose their drivers licence.[h2]Current penalties for individuals caught speeding[/h2]InfringementPenalty amountDemerit pointsLess than 11km/h over the speed limit$287. 1 pointAt least 11km/h but not more than 20km/h over the speed limit$431. 3 pointsMore than 20km/h but not more than 30km/h over the speed limit$646. 4 pointsMore than 30km/h but not more than 40km/h over the speed limit$1,078. 6 pointsMore than 40km/h over the speed limit$1,653. 8 points and 6 month suspension
  • Wjtinfwb Instead of raising fines, why don't the authorities enforce the laws and write tickets, and have judges enforce the penalty or sentence of a crime. I live across the street from an Elementary School on a 4-lane divided state highway. every morning the cop sits in his car and when someone sails through the School Zone well above the 10 mph limit, he merely hits his siren to get their attention but that's it. I've never, in 5 years, seen them get out of the car and actually stop and driver and confront them about speeding. As a result, no one pays attention and when the School Zone light is not lit, traffic flies by at 50-60 mph in the 45 zone. Almost no enforcement occurs until the inevitable crash, last year some zoned out girl rolled her beater Elantra 3 times. On a dry, straight, 4 lane road with a 45 mph limit. I'm no Angel and have a heavy foot myself. I've received my share of speeding tickets, lots of them when younger. Traffic enforcement in most locales has become a joke these days, jacking prices because someone has a higher income in as asinine as our stupid tax policy and non-existent immigration enforcement.
  • Jeff S If AM went away I would listen to FM but since it is insignificant in the cost to the car and in an emergency broadcast it is good to have. I agree with some of the others its another way to collect money with a subscription. AM is most likely to go away in the future but I will use AM as long as its around.
  • BEPLA I think it's cool the way it is.If I had the money, time and space - I'd buy it, clean it up, and just do enough to get it running properly.Then take it to Cars and Coffee and park it next to all the newer Mustangs.
  • Dave M. I suppose Jethro’s farm report comes via AM, but there’s a ton of alternative ways to get that info. Move forward people. Progress is never easy.