EDITORIAL: Respect vehicle tinted glass laws
JUST THIS WEEK, the Jamaican police made it clear that all tints were to be immediately removed from public passenger vehicles. It was a reaction – sadly – to recent abductions of women and children in Jamaica by culprits posing as taxi drivers.
The instructions were given to the lawmen by a disconcerted Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
And as for motor cars, no tint will be allowed on the back windscreen; on the glass of two front windows; or the front windscreen – except for a six-inch visor from the top.
Jamaicans ignoring these regulations and persisting with the heavily tinted glass windows risk prosecution by the police and a fine of JAM$2 500 (BDS$38) – which is likely to be increased when the new Road Traffic Act is passed in Parliament shortly.
In other places in the Caribbean, motor car windows must have “the right amount of tint” on the front windscreen, allowing “75 per cent of light through”; and on the two windows to either side of the driver “70 per cent of light” must be allowed in.
Generally, the rules on tinted windows do not apply to the rear windscreen or the rear passenger windows. Otherwise, it is to make sure drivers can see where they are going.
No doubt about it, window tints can hamper your ability to see the more vulnerable of our road users, like pedestrians and cyclists, especially in low-light conditions at dawn and dusk, or after the sudden onset of rain at night.
In most modern vehicles there is a slight tint added by manufacturers to the windows. If you add more to it, it is likely to result in windows failing to meet legal requirements.
Barbadians will recall our late Prime Minister Tom Adams addressing this issue back in the 1980s. His equally deep concern was the inability to see the driver of the deeply glass-tinted vehicle, or who else was inside, particularly when a police officer approached.
These days (or should we say nights?) when lawless youth are driving up next to you to jostle you off the road and rob you, deeply tinted windows are a perfect accessory to the crime. Which raises the question: are our vehicle tinted glass laws still in effect?
Given the thousands of black and dark brown tinted windows on four wheels on our highways and byways, and the inability to see who are navigating them as they pass or overtake us, there is good reason for concern.
Truth be told, not all these hidden drivers have criminal intent. Some simply believe the deep car window tinting keeps the air-conditioning temperature inside the vehicle cooler, while others just think the dark tinting makes the car look even cooler. In some cases, the tint saves the driver having to buy a pair of expensive sunshades after constantly misplacing previous ones.
Whatever reason may be presented for wanting tinted windows on a car, or other vehicle, the laws regulating vehicle window tinting must be respected, followed and enforced. At the very heart of following the rules is the safety of us all.
The window glass on most newer cars and other vehicles has been coated or treated during manufacture so some degree of window tinting is in place to keep out harmful ultraviolet rays – and almost always in compliance with general window tinting laws and regulations. So what need is there for upping invisibility?
There may be some exemption for diplomatic vehicles, and those of very senior Government and high-ranking military officials, but not for the citizenry who should have nothing to hide.