What to consider
Kampala, Uganda | MOTORING GURU | Since the shooting dead of Arua Municipality MP, Ibrahim Abiriga on June 08, a number of directives have been flying around, including one on tinted motor vehicles. It is not clear whether they will be implemented or in which manner. What is clear is that the law enforcers need to weigh the benefits of tinted motor vehicle windows to the vehicle owner or passenger and what is being described as increased security to the general if all occupants are visible.
Until now tinted windows have been in vogue, partly because the law did not prohibit them, many vehicle owners – public and private, prefer them, and international vehicle manufacturer’s factory-install them on most vehicles; especially SUVs and trucks. Factory tint is simply tinted window glass that is applied during the vehicle manufacturing. It is a colour inside the window glass itself. It is different from the tint fitted outside the manufacture process which is a film of tinted foil applied to the inside of the window.
The trouble with any upcoming law on tinted cars is that (one) factory tint cannot be removed or changed, and (two) almost all vehicles windows have some form of tint. In most cases, it is not the completely dark tint but is light, with a visual light transmission (VLT) of 15-26%. Therefore, any upcoming law on tinting must clearly offer a solution to the many owners of cars with this factory tint.
Section 18 of Uganda Traffic and Road Safety (Public Service Vehicles) Regulations mentions only windscreens of a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) and private omnibus. It says: “Every public service vehicle and private omnibus shall be fitted with a windscreen made of safety glass or if transparent material other than glass is used shall be of a kind that does not shatter; windscreens shall not be surface tinted.”
It does not mention other vehicles or their windows.
So why is motor vehicle window tint good?
First, any new law should consider that vehicle window tinting has real health benefits. This is mainly because it reduces exposure to UV rays of the sun which cause skin cancer or accelerated skin aging for those who are exposed to them for long periods of time. Women especially, who are exposed to high UV radiation are prone to developing dermatomyositis , an autoimmune disease which affects the skin. Tint also reduces glare and, therefore, eye strain and heat when driving in sunny conditions.
Too much heat in the vehicle can be very uncomfortable, lead to dehydration due to too much sweating, and heat stroke.
Finally, while the windshield is made of a glass and plastic laminate, the side and rear windows are made of tempered glass. In case of an accident, they shatter into thousands of tiny chunks. Window tint film keeps the majority of these from flying around and showering the occupants, adding an extra safety measure in case of an accident. In this way, tinted windows reduce injuries resulting from broken glass because the shattered pieces are held on the adhesive film.
Any new regulations or laws must, therefore, not merely consider tinted windows as a concealment feature for criminals or a cosmetic aftermarket add-on for cars. It should consider the health benefits mentioned.
Added benefits of tints
Window tint may make a vehicle look cool, especially for younger owners. It can also reduce sun damage to the vehicle interior and hide expensive fittings and other personal items from prying eyes of would-be thieves. Passers-by cannot be able to tell what is inside the car and they cannot be tempted to break your car window to steal the item. It can also protect VIPs from assasins.
Note that many countries have regulations on vehicle window tinting but very few have banned it completely. Many of them simply have regulation on percentage of light blockage and differentiate between windshield and driver sections, and passenger seating areas at the back. This is mainly because of the benefits listed