To Tint Or Not To Tint

By Julia Price

October 3, 2014 5 min read

Tinted windows can serve a purpose, namely keeping your car cooler and reducing glare from the sun, but do those benefits outweigh the potential risks of having less visibility? These are just a few of the points that lawmakers around the country are currently considering as they continue to debate whether tinted windows really protect your car or they are simply a safety hazard.

When it comes to driving, tinted windows do not technically impose any kind of immediate impairment on the driver's vision, so the most important part appears to be safe. Driving at night is more of a concern, as the added darkness makes it generally harder to see objects of contrast, such as bikers and pedestrians.

This is seldom taken into consideration when people choose to add tints.

Many drivers decide to get tints because they like the way they look and they want to do something different with their car. Aesthetically, tints can be appealing, and many people go beyond the legal limit and make them as dark as possible. Going beyond the limit can seriously affect a driver's ability to see and should be avoided.

Privacy is also a common reason for tints, and many limousine services use them as an added incentive to their clientele, many of whom enjoy not being seen from the outside. For celebrities and high-profile individuals, this option provides a certain comfort when traveling in public.

Tints are great for hiding, which is part of the reason the law doesn't like them. One of the major problems that law enforcement has with tints is the safety concern they pose for officers. When officers approach a car with tinted windows during a routine traffic stop, they have difficulty seeing objects inside the car, which could be a dangerous weapon or drug paraphernalia. This is a potentially life-threatening situation that a cop is walking into blindly. It is crucial to the well-being of police officers to be able to have clear vision inside of cars when they approach, and this is a major consideration in the tinting discussion.

It doesn't help the stereotype that many movies portray mobsters and thugs driving cars with tinted windows. Many ordinary citizens want to have tints, whether it's for the look or for the other reasons. Tinted windows are legal in every state, but there is usually a percentage of tinting that is allowed. Regulations vary from state to state, so it is recommended that you check with your local law enforcement to make sure that you are staying well within the legal limits of shade on your windows.

Too much tinting makes it difficult to see, and it can be hazardous when pedestrians and bikers have trouble clearly making eye contact with the drivers who have darker windows. Oftentimes we rely on quick acknowledgments to know who is going to go first at a traffic sign or whether a pedestrian is going to be allowed to walk.

Shaded windows can make this communication even more difficult. Also, when two cars have tints and are trying to make eye contact, it becomes exceedingly difficult to distinguish what each driver is going to do. This isn't usually the scenario that drivers think about when they put on tints.

Tinting on a rear window can decrease the visibility of the driver in the car behind you, who may not be able to see the brake lights of the car in front of you.

Sometimes people put tints on their cars to reduce the amount of sunlight and therefore the heat inside the car. This can be advantageous, especially if dogs and/or small children who are sensitive are riding in the back seats. There are also people who believe that tinted windows reduce wear and tear on the inside of the car because of reduced sunlight. Significant studies have yet to be conducted on the amount of damage tinted windows prevent, if any. Many people choose air conditioning as an alternative method of cooling their cars.

An alternative to blackening your windows is simply wearing sunglasses, which can provide the same, if not greater, UV protection. With all the discussion around whether tinted windows are protective or harmful, this might be the easy way out of the argument.

If you are going to take the dive and darken your windows, make sure you follow regulations and pay extra-close attention to the road at night, when objects are hardest to see. Tints may not protect your car, but they can add an element of privacy and cool. If you can keep your eyes glued to the road, you can have the best of both worlds.

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