“Across both experiments, it’s very notable that the two different testing conditions showed a lowering of visual demand of around 10.6 percent among the men,” said David Gould, director of product marketing at Monotype and part of the research team. “This difference in glance time represents approximately 50 feet in distance when traveling at U.S. highway speed. Although we’ve only scratched the surface and more typeface studies need to be done, we see this as a call to action for auto manufacturers, their suppliers and safety standards bodies to recognize that typeface style can represent a critical element of the driving experience.”Monotype typeface experts believed that a typeface from the humanist genre would demonstrate distinct advantages in legibility in limited glance-time applications as compared to a square grotesque style. Humanist typefaces, such as the Frutiger® design which was used in the study, are characterized by open forms that lead the eye horizontally, making them ideal for reading small text. Humanist styles are noted for their highly distinguishable shapes, which help to lessen at-a-glance ambiguity. By contrast, square grotesque styles, such as the Eurostile® typeface which was also used in the study, adhere to a rectangular form that’s repeated in a large number of characters, resulting in letterforms with similar shapes, potentially increasing ambiguity. Other attributes, such as tight spacing inside the letterforms, can cause characters to appear blurry. “The humanist genre is ideal for automotive interfaces. It’s deeply rooted in our psyche because it’s founded on the classic book typefaces we are so used to reading,” said Steve Matteson, creative type director at Monotype who was part of the research team. “Eurostile is actually very popular in automotive today – it conveys power and energy. However, the letterforms are mechanically rigid and compact, tightly spaced, and in some cases are nearly indistinguishable from each other.”
Government bodies, the auto industry and safety committees worldwide are addressing the need to reduce driver distraction risks. In the U.S., the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has proposed voluntary guidelines to limit potential distraction risks. Among the guidelines’ cited statistics are that 17 percent of all crashes reported to police (an estimated 899,000) in 2010 involved reports of distracted driving. Of these, 26,000 involved adjusting a device/control integral to the vehicle. The guidelines recommend that devices allow for drivers to complete tasks in two seconds or less while not watching the road, since glances longer than two seconds are correlated with an increased crash/near-crash risk.About Monotype Imaging Monotype Imaging is a leading global provider of typefaces, technology and expertise that enable the best user experience and ensure brand integrity. Based in Woburn, Mass., Monotype Imaging provides customers worldwide with typeface solutions for a broad range of creative applications and consumer devices. The company’s library and e-commerce sites are home to many of the most widely used typefaces – including the Helvetica®, Frutiger and Univers® families – as well as the next generation of type designs. Further information is available at www.monotypeimaging.com. Monotype is a trademark of Monotype Imaging Inc. registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain jurisdictions. Helvetica and Frutiger are trademarks of Linotype Corp. registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain jurisdictions in the name of Linotype Corp. or its licensee Linotype GmbH. Eurostile and Univers are trademarks of Linotype GmbH registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and may be registered in certain other jurisdictions. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. © 2012 Monotype Imaging Inc. All rights reserved.