The issue of car-window tinting has been divisive for many years. While it makes sense to tint car windows to reduce glare and help control the temperature inside the vehicle, using a tint that is too dark is both a safety hazard and a security issue. That is why the law stipulates that the maximum allowable tint is 30 per cent.
It is, however, a law that is widely ignored. A 2013 survey by The National found that more than 10 per cent of 1,134 vehicles counted along a busy road had illegal window tinting. The problem has not gone away, with road-safety expert Andy Dean saying this week that the law against darker tints must be more strictly enforced "because there are plenty of cars out there with windows so heavily tinted that they're like a big black box".
The reasons people tint their windows to the point where it is very difficult to see into the vehicle – and, significantly, to see out – range from privacy and cultural issues to vanity. As one young driver put it, it “looks cool”. While it is understood that some people wish to guard their privacy, public safety should take precedence. Drivers who cannot properly see out of the windscreen, or through the rear-view mirrors, are a danger to themselves, their passengers and every other road user. Heavy tints obstruct the work of the police and rescue workers, making it difficult for them to identify suspects in criminal cases or victims in accidents. A fully blacked-out car can also be intimidating to other drivers.
In a country that has a high number of road deaths, eliminating the widespread use of illegal window tints ought to be a priority. No excuse is valid. If glare is a problem, wear sunglasses. If privacy is a concern, dress more modestly. If the car is hot after being parked in the sun, then crank up the air-conditioning. The law, which provides for a Dh500 fine and 30-day confiscation of the vehicle, should be enforced without fear or favour. Businesses that offer illegal tinting services should be penalised, too. It is simply not good enough to warn a customer that a certain tint is illegal, then install it any way.