Improved Dashboard Displays Can Help Reduce Distracted Driving Accidents

By October 9, 2012Car & Truck Accidents

Distracted drivers are a growing menace on today’s roads. In 2009 – the latest statistics available – distracted drivers accounted for 5,474 fatal motor vehicle accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the proportion of distracted drivers in fatal crashes increased from 7 percent in 2005 to 16 percent in 2009. And over the last few years that number surely has grown further.

There are three types of driving distractions:

• Visual, or taking your eyes off the road for a variety of reasons

• Manual, or when you take your hands off the wheel

• Cognitive, or when you take your mind off of the task at hand

The use of cell phones while driving can fall into all three categories. If you reach for your phone to either to take a call, read a text or send an outgoing message, there’s always the split-second danger of taking your eyes off the road. And using a cell phone can divert a person’s mental responsibilities from the task of driving

While cell phone use is the main reason for today’s distracted drivers, it isn’t the only factor. Looking down toward a vehicle’s dashboard can take a driver’s eyes off the road, increasing the risk for a fatal accident. A recent research effort by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab has announced a simple fix to this potential problem.

One Solution to Distracted Driving Cause

The study’s authors conclude that redesigning a vehicle’s gauges and other informational displays can reduce the time a driver’s eyes are away from the road, thereby decreasing fatal automobile accidents. Specifically, the research suggests a cleaner, rounder typeface on the displays makes them easier to read, which can reduce by as much as 10 percent the time a driver takes to glance down toward the dashboard. This equates to about 50 feet of highway driving.

Interestingly, the improved results were contained to male drivers. Different font styles had little or no effect on female drivers in the study. Eighty-two drivers, encompassing a 40-year span in ages, were included in the research.

If you or a loved one fell victim to a distracted driver, regardless of the cause, you may want to consult an experienced attorney to protect your rights.