Why The Solution To Safer Driving Is More Legible In-Car Fonts

Why The Solution To Safer Driving Is More Legible In-Car Fonts

MIT study helps Monotype develop a safe typeface for car dashboards.

Ross Brooks
  • 8 april 2014

Even though the average vehicle dashboard is packed with useful information, it turns out that most of it isn’t that easy to read. A new font designed by Carl Crossgrove, a senior type designer at Monotype, could be just what car manufacturers are looking for. It’s called Burlingame, and in a recent MIT Study is much more legible compared to existing fonts used in cars.

Even though designers have their own personal theories about what makes a good typeface, it’s not something that’s been tested before. The MIT Study compared “humanist,” which feature more organic shapes and looser spacing, with “grotesque,” more modular and blockier, style typefaces.


Male participants experienced a 13% improvement in overall response time when looking at humanist fonts. They also required 10.6% lower visual demand (total glance time) when compared with a blockier grotesque typeface. Interestingly, the changes experienced by woman were statistically insignificant.

These findings were taken into consideration by Crossgrove when he designed the Burlingame typeface. At a time when cars are only getting smarter, this particular development is extremely important, as explained by the designer in an interview with
Fast Company.

“There is a sort of avalanche of a different and much more intense kind of technological layering that is about to happen with cars,” he said. “It’s a new facet to the way a car functions and the way people interact with their vehicles. It kind of dialed up the importance of having a font perform well in those settings because they’re going to get much more use in much more crucial settings. Driver distraction is on a lot of people’s minds now.”


Not only will the new font be safer, but it just so happens that this month is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which makes it an extremely timely development in the world of typeface design.


[h/t] Fast Company



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