Unfortunately, like everything that comes from the UK, the U.S. version is worse. Lawmakers are slow to create laws that would mandate side guards, probably because they're busy counting all the millions in donations from transportation companies wanting to save a buck. So instead, the change is happening on a slow city-by-city basis. The entire truck fleet of the University of Washington was recently outfitted with side guards, which makes sense when you consider how many students ride bicycles -- and are drunk. But until corporations start using their millions to save lives instead of bribing politicians, or politicians start refusing bribes, Americans will keep getting beheaded. Instead of waiting on that to happen, we recommend investing in some protective neck wear. A stylishly armored turtleneck, perhaps?
Bad Highway Sign Fonts Can Kill
Besides hating Comic Sans with a passion, most people don't really care about fonts at all. Yet there are some situations in which it's quite important to be able to read words quickly -- like when you need to learn that a tornado is about to turn your asshole inside-out, or when you're speeding across the land in an explosion-powered death mobile.
When you're traveling at a hundred feet per second on the highway, font legibility is a really big deal. In the past, the standard font for road signs was Highway Gothic (which would make a great title for a book about a hitchhiking vampire). Then, in 2004, scientists found that signs written in the Clearview font could be read at distances up to 74 feet farther away than Highway Gothic, which is 0.7 seconds more time focused on the road -- which can be the difference between a sudden stop and a more sudden, crunchier stop.
via Wiki Commons
Now that we've put them together, it's so obvious which one will save the most lives.
But other scientists who felt the need to ruin everyone's day discovered that the sign difference may have in fact been due to improvements in design and materials instead of fonts, accusing the first scientists of being in the pocket of Big Font -- or as they're also known, the Syncopate. No longer seeing empirical proof that one was better than the other, the Highway Safety Administration did what everyone does when it comes to fonts: stick with the one they're used to. Less than a decade into Clearview's reign, the agency went back to Highway Gothic.
And the Ladies in White were free to prowl I-95 once more.
We do know now that fonts can make a difference while driving. Yet another study (who is funding these?) had drivers looking at navigation screens while driving, changing out the fonts to see which ones performed better. Sure enough, one of the typefaces distracted drivers for less time than the other -- but only for men, interestingly. Women saw no change in how long they looked at the navigation system, so it probably has something to do with the O's looking more like a boob or something. The scientists ultimately concluded that maybe we don't actually know anything about anything, but the governments of the world should fund a few hundred more studies to be safe.
If at any point we used the word "font" when we should have used "typeface," do let us know in the comments below.
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