After years of intermittent, mainly soft window tinting, the practice is getting bolder and the shades of tint darker. If the earlier shades were lighter; allowing in more than 70% light, the current trend is for darker shades; sometimes letting in about only 5% light.
We will not go into details of why more and more vehicle owners are going for tints and darker ones; suffice to say most do not want people seeing what is in their vehicle. This is not only an issue of privacy but also of security. It is believed thieves are less likely to break into a car when they cannot see what is in it to steal.
Some users claim tinted windows reduce glare, keep the vehicle cooler, and protects the vehicle interiors and others think it makes the car look cool. At other times, owners believe it makes the car look cooler. It also keeps the direct sunlight from fading the upholstery and cracking the plastic. In some cases, the tint might be a response to a medical condition of the vehicle user such as skin conditions including sunburn, lupus, sunlight allergy, photosensitivity, and melanoma skin cancer.
There is also currently no law in Uganda prohibiting tinting of any kind as is the case in other jurisdictions.
However, there is a downside to tinting. It should be noted that most new cars come with almost the maximum tint as standard. This is designed to keep some dangerous ultraviolet light from harming vehicle occupants. What is meant by tint in the cases we are discussing is added by specialist fitters that use films on the inside of windows.
Tint, as in the film applied to the inside of a window, changes the way the glass is designed to react in the event of an accident. Vehicle windows are designed to shatter into tiny peanut-size fragments to reduce impact during accidents. The tint film changes that by holding the glass more solidly together. In case of accidents, this mean the glass becomes a solid cutting agent that can be quite dangerous to driver and passengers.
In other cases where the so called `limo’ tint (the darkest black which allows less that 5% light through) is used on all side windows and rear windows (a few cars do it on three quarters of windshield), the tint might become a safety hazard.
Some heavy tinting is generally known to impede driver visibility and awareness of road environment and condition. Most missed (and therefore endangered) are pedestrians and cyclists.
It makes eye contact, gesturing, and other none verbal cues that are often necessary between motorist difficult if not impossible. Dark windows are especially dangerous during night driving as they obstruct driver’s ability to see road signs. Some people have likened the experience driving at night while wearing sunglasses. In cases why right of way is negotiated at point of interaction, drivers need to make eye contact to agree who goes first, sometimes hand gestures are involved. This also applied to communication between driver and pedestrian. Sometimes the driver wants to make eye contact for the pedestrian to either go ahead and cross or watch out. Unfortunately, tints make this quite difficult. That could explain why, in some jurisdictions, tinting is permitted on other windows except the front.