SAN FRANCISCO -- For men, size does not matter as much as fonts, at
least in the realm of human-machine interface design.
That's according to a new study from the MIT AgeLab, where researchers examined
the impact of typography on driver distraction. The survey found a major
difference in how men reacted to a certain font class when looking
at an on-board display compared with women.
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The survey was done in
conjunction with Monotype
Imaging, a century-old font firm.
Driver distraction is
becoming an increasingly important design consideration in the wake
that have found that 3,092 people died in 2010 and about
416,000 people were injured in crashes that were thought to involve
a distracted driver--or 18 percent of all car injuries.
The MIT study included 82 participants in a simulation
lab. Researchers compared glance times when drivers looked at a 800 x 480
display using a "grotesque"-category
font (Eurostile). This was compared with the glance time for a "humanist"-category
font (Frutiger). The font size was 4 mm.
Glance times for men, examined partly with eye tracking technology,
dropped 10.6 percent on average when looking at the display showing
Frutiger (3.86 seconds) compared to a display showing Eurostile
(4.33 seconds), according to Bryan Reimer, the MIT AgeLab research
scientist who ran the tests.That time is
equivalent to driving 50 feet at a speed of about 75 mph, added Reimer, who also heads the New
England Region University Transportation Center. .
The study divided the participants into two groups. one male group recorded a 12.2 percent improvement in glance time with the
humanist font, while the other showed a 9.1 percent