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Ford Boldly Aids Older Drivers

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author photo by Colin Ryan June 2011

Attention all drivers who are 40 and older: Ford is on your side. According to the Blue Oval's research, that's when our eyesight begins to deteriorate. By the time we reach 60, we'll be especially grateful for Ford's new initiative to make the lettering on vehicle controls wider and therefore easier to read.

In the trade, it's known as making a font bold (a font is the style of lettering). So instead of looking like this, it will look like this. The letters grow bigger by about 40 percent. It's a simple thing, but Ford has found that "even small changes of interior graphics can make them easier and quicker for drivers of all ages to read and recognize."

"If you choose wisely," said research engineer Shannon O'Day, "the legibility of relatively small text can be a comfortable reading experience. This is especially helpful for drivers on the move." In O'Day's study for Ford – titled "Legibility: Back to Basics" – she found that "younger drivers experienced issues with many of the same (normal, non-bold) fonts, albeit at a much lower rate." The age range of test subjects went from under 45 to 91, who were shown fonts of various sizes and designs through special goggles that could replicate the quick-fire glances we make at our car controls while driving. "If it's easy for older people to read, it's going to be easier for everyone," said O'Day.

Vehicles sporting this new emboldened readability are coming out next year. The Explorer and Edge crossover sport utility vehicles will be the first to go bold. The timing is perfect, because Ford reports that people aged 65 and over now outnumber children under five for the first time in human history. The company describes this turn of events as "a transformation that's changing the world, along with all kinds of products in it." Ford might also take heart in that famous Latin proverb: Fortune favors the bold.

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Ford Boldly Aids Older Drivers - Autotrader