The government recently announced that police stations island-wide would be inspecting all vehicles to check whether the windows at the driver’s side are tinted or covered with curtains.
Many vehicles today opt to tint their windows owing to several reasons, ranging from unbearably hot weather to security reasons.
While the usage of tints has been attributed as a reason for several accidents, there are those who say that tints are protective shields for the vehicle’s interior and its passengers.
An official at Kleen Park, a popular vehicle maintenance centre in Colombo, said that the tints are used for several reasons that are beneficial for the vehicle and the occupant.
Accordingly, the tinted-screen controls the heat from the sun and keeps the interior relatively cool reducing air-condition (AC) consumption which in turn improves fuel efficiency as the tint helps to keep the air-conditioner compressor off thus saving fuel.
The second reason is to prevent the interior from fading or discolouring due to sunlight and heat. In addition, the tint-cover also prevents the sun’s ultra violet rays from entering the vehicle thereby protecting the passengers.
The process of checking all vehicles commenced on January 19 and will continue till the end of this month.
But the move created confusion as to whether the authorities had once again revised the law pertaining to tints on vehicle windows.
Implementation of law
Police and the Ministry of Transport said that the move was just a measure to ensure implementation of the law which already exists.
Police spokesman DIG Priyantha Jayakody told Weekend Nation that the police would make sure that the law pertaining to tinted glasses was implemented properly.
“This move to monitor all vehicles is solely aimed at reducing accidents,” he said.
According to Jayakody, a considerable number of accidents were due to lack of visibility owing to tint cover on the windows on either side of the driver. “We perused several CCTV footages of accidents and realized that many accidents were due to the fact that the drivers did not have proper visibility due to the tint,” Jayakody said.
Jayakody pointed out that according to the law, drivers cannot have any percentage of tinted matter on the windows at the front. “Using tinted glasses and curtains have resulted in a higher number of accidents,” he said.
However, this contention by the police is flawed because most accidents involve recklessly driven buses, three-wheelers, container trucks which are not tinted or there is any possibility of pasting the tint sticker.
It should also be noted that during high security survelliance during the terrorist period there was a crack down on tinted vehicles along with acompanying legislation. Today it is peace time. Therefore, when even physical barriers and checkpoints are removed, one wonders why the police are so enamoured to remove tints on flimsy grounds of accidents reduction where the obvious vehicles of perpetrators are not tinted.
Chairman of the National Council for Road Safety of the Ministry of Transport, Dr. Sisira Kodagoda said that removing tints from the frontal windows would not make much of a difference in terms of AC consumption. “Safety is the important factor here,” he said.
He also said that by law drivers needed to follow it but it was not properly implemented. “This is not something new. The law says it has to be done”, said Dr. Kodagoda.
Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry too stated that it was drafting its own recommendations and proposals pertaining to the usage of tints on vehicles.
Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Karunasena Hettiarachchi told Weekend Nation that the usage of tints on vehicles should take into consideration several aspects including the vulnerability of a person to threats.
He said that there needs to be a certain amount of exceptions for the likes of VIPs, some members of the security forces and others who are bound to face threats due to various reasons.
“We are taking this case by case and are working with the Transport Ministry in this regard and we will submit our thoughts and proposals to the Transport Ministry and work with them,” Hettiarachchi said.
According to the National Council of Road Safety, there were 38,952 cases of accidents reported last year out of which 2961 were fatal.
The laws on the use of tinted glass were amended via appendations made through Government Gazette Number 875/08 issued on June 16, 1995 and Gazette Number 1273/28 issued on 2003 January 31.
Except on the top portion of the front windscreen, covering 20% of which tinted glass can be used, tinted glass cannot be used elsewhere on the front windscreen and the two front window shutters (the driver’s side and the front passenger side). If the latter is done it constitutes an offence as per the said gazettes.
Police have previously said that although the tinting of the rear windscreen and side windows is permissible by law it would only be allowed in the event the use of tinted glass allows for 70% transparency (defined in this case as the amount of light passing through the window, which can be ascertained via the use of particular meters by traffic police personnel). The same is the case with the use of curtains.
If flagged down by the police for committing an offence within the purview of the said gazettes, the driver’s licence would be confiscated and a receipt issued in lieu of it, subsequent to which within 14 days the offending driver must remove the tint and show the vehicle to the respective traffic division of the relevant police station for certification of removal of the tint. If it is not complied with the driver would then be produced before court and fined Rs 1000.