Raggie Jessy Rithaudeen
Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook announced that motorists are now allowed to tint the rear windshields and passenger windows of their vehicles as dark as they want. The new ruling, according to Loke, is in line with United Nations Regulations on the installation of safety glazing materials on vehicles. Let’s take a step back and examine the pros and cons to all this.
For the purpose, I will go ahead and assign one score point for every pro and con that does not involve human lives and two for those that do. We will limit this discussion to three main pros and three main cons before subtracting the total score for cons from that for pros. If the result is negative, it simply means the risk of allowing motorists to tint at will is too high to be considered. If the result is positive, the government can just go ahead with the ruling and forget about this article.
So, without further ado, let’s begin:
THE UPSIDE OF DARK WINDOW TINTS
1. Keeps your car cool
Actually, this can be quite misleading, as the cabin compartment of a heavily tinted vehicle can end up being just as hot as a non tinted one if both are left parked under scorching temperatures for extended periods of time. How hot the air is in the cabin compartment of your car is directly proportional to the average kinetic energy of air molecules in it. Unless there is some hidden ventilation system that allows air to flow in and out of the compartment, heat is likely to transfer through the windscreen and cause energy levels to rise. It’s just a question of how fast or how slow the heating proses goes.
These days, you have polymer films that are designed to prevent UV radiation from getting in. I know that for a fact because I am a polymer specialist and will be completing my PhD in resin technology by the year end. Ultraviolet radiation is high in frequency and excites the air molecules in your car. The more you prevent UV rays from getting in, the longer it will take for the air in the cabin compartment to expand. You don’t need dark tints to prevent UV rays from getting in. These days, you even have films with visibility ranges exceeding 90 per cent that almost completely prevent UV rays from getting in. So we can rule out the need for dark tints to ward off UV rays and put it all down to aesthetics.
As for human lives, UV rays do tend to be harmful if you’re exposed to them for extended periods of time. But unless you plan on imprisoning yourself in your car throughout the daytime, day in day out, the tint on your car windshield isn’t exactly going to prevent you from getting cancer. So we can rule the need for UV protective tints to prevent the loss of human lives and assign a single score point to this category.
2. Gives your car a luxurious look.
This can be quite quite subjective. Some owners of, say, a black Mercedes C200, may feel that a dark-black tint would make the car look extra luxurious and appealing. I personally do not find that to be the case. I’d rather have a black Mercedes C200 with a mild hue sufficient enough to prevent UV rays from getting in. Aesthetics really has nothing to do with human lives and is more to do with the ego. So we can go ahead and give this category a single score point and pray that people start thinking with their heads and not their egos.
3. Reduces glare
We already have polymer technology that can prevent glares without the need for dark tints. Scientifically, we’re talking about light bouncing off the surface of a material and getting to your eyes, which happens also to be the requirement for you to be able to see things. Should the intensity of the light bouncing off an object be too high, it could cause a temporal ‘blinding effect’ that could be life threatening. The key to resolving this is to have a tint so mild, it helps reduce the intensity of the light bouncing off objects without critically impairing your vision. As long as you do that, there is no risk involved.
And that makes it one more score point for the upside category.
Now for the downside.
THE DOWNSIDE OF DARK WINDOW TINTS
1. Lowered visibility
Like I previously said, the requirement for you to be able to see objects is for those objects to reflect light to your eyes. If the tint on your car windscreen and windows is too dark, your visibility gets significantly impaired, particularly if you’re driving in the night or through dark tunnels. There is that, and the fact that the rougher and darker an object gets, the lower is its capability to bounce off all the light that comes into contact with it. So, if you happen to be driving down a road in the middle of the night when suddenly, a woman clad in black crosses your path, the chances of you killing her rises many, many fold.
This is a no brainer. It deserves a two point score.
2. Less eye contact
A 2002 study conducted at MIT found that infants were far more likely to try and follow an adult’s eye instead of just their head movements. Psychologists have long studied people’s eyes and they way they gaze, blink or twitch under different circumstances to judge character, honesty, motives and so on. Sometimes, being able to gaze into the eye of a driver and (or) passenger allows one to determine if anyone in the car is alert of the goings on around him (or her).
For instance, by gazing into one’s eye, you can easily tell if he (or she) is drugged or heavily intoxicated. Pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and other drivers rely on the ability to see each other, oftentimes making eye contact when sharing the road. Whether it is to indicate right of way, waving someone into traffic or to let a pedestrian know the vehicle is stopping and it’s safe to cross, eye contact can be as effective as turn signals in the right situation. The lack of eye contact simply adds to the risk of lives being lost and deserves a two score point, if anything.
3. There could be a criminal in the car
We don’t know if there is a criminal waiting to pound on you from inside a heavily tinted vehicle. Walking past such a vehicle itself poses a risk if you don’t have eye contact with passengers inside. Yes, we’re back to eye contact, only this time, for different reasons. Even a policeman puts himself up to unnecessary risks, as there is no telling if the guy on the other end is wielding a gun and is ready to roll down the window at any moment and shoot the unsuspecting cop. This is a complete life hazard and deserves a two point score.