Groundbreaking Type Legibility Research

The idea that certain typefaces may make in-vehicle displays more readable, but that it might also be a factor in mitigating driver distraction, was researched in a 2012 study led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AgeLab and the New England University Transportation Center, sponsored by Monotype. Initial results of this exploratory study showed that certain type styles reduce glance time, and especially so for men — the time away from watching the road when driving while interacting with in-vehicle displays (Reimer, Mehler, Dobres, Matteson, Gould, Chahine & Levantovsky, 2014).

Data collection for the 2012 study was carried out in an MIT AgeLab driving simulator environment with participants ranging from 36 to 75 years old. The research examined the impact of typeface design on glance behavior when a driver interacts with a multi-line menu display, designed to model a text-rich automotive human machine interface (HMI). Participants were asked to respond to a series of address, restaurant identification, and content search menus that were implemented using two different typeface designs.

The results showed that the humanist typeface reduced total glance time for men by 10.6%, as compared to the square grotesque design, and by 3.3% for women (Reimer, Mehler, Coughlin, 2012).

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Reimer, B., Mehler, B., Dobres, J., Coughlin, J.F., Matteson, S., Gould, D., Chahine, N. & Levantovsky, V. (2014). Assessing the Impact of Typeface Design in a Text Rich Automotive User Interface. Ergonomics .