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Tinted car windows come under the scanner

Afkar Abdullah / 4 July 2010

Glasses on vehicles get darker as the sun’s rays get stronger during the summer months. Many motorists don’t realise that darker windows mean fines that reach Dh10,000.

Violations have increased in Sharjah, say police officials, and this is largely due to ignorance on rules governing the use of such screens.

According to the law, the tint on vehicle windows should not exceed 30 per cent, but, it has been noticed that many glasses have between 60 to 80 per cent film on them. Prices range from Dh80 to Dh1,200 for the expensive German and Taiwanese varieties of shades.

Khalid Zarouq, a motorist says, “Workers at the garage show me all types of shades, starting from Dh80 for the American variety, to Dh1,200 for the German and Taiwan makes, which come with temperature insulation.’’

The problem begins when a motorist selects the cheapest variety, which is over 30 per cent tint.

Many have urged Sharjah Police and municipality to make it mandatory for car accessory shops to issue stamped bills which also detail the process of sticking the screen and the date on which was done.

Abu Rashid says, “Workers at accessory shops always convince us that the American screen is only 30 per cent and the dark colour would soon fade when exposed to the sun. We believe them, the moment we hit the road, the police stop us and slap us with a fine.”

Lt. Colonel Ahmed bin Darwish, head of Anjad Patrol, says police conduct regular inspection campaigns on the issue of glass sunscreens.

“Allowing only 30 per cent tint was not a decision taken randomly by the UAE authorities. It is an international specification adopted in most of the European countries,” he says, noting that the decision to allow this percentage to all free of charge is an indication of the fairness of authorities.

“Earlier, only UAE nationals were allowed to tint their vehicle windows and they were doing it for a fee. Now, any motorist can do it.”

Police patrols can determine if a motorist is observing the 30 per cent tinted glass by just looking at the car. “The 30 per cent allows us to clearly see the driver and passengers, who will not be visible if the percentage exceeds this limit. However, if motorists claim that they are within the limit, we have special devices to verify their claim,” the director of the traffic department, says.

“I do not agree with the claims that tinted glass hide women or decrease heat, noting that UAE women leave their homes covered as per the traditions and Islamic Shariah. As for the heat, our ancestors lived in even harsher conditions and never felt the need for air-conditioners or tinted glass,” says Brig Ali Saeed Al Matroushi, head of traffic and accidents department of Ajman Police.

Heat rejection and a customised look are the two main reasons for most people to consider going in for window tints, says Ayman Fakhori, owner of a car accessories shop in Ajman.

“In the last few years several of the major manufacturers involved in making window films have gone to a great extent in developing a product with heat rejection rates of over 60 per cent. These products, usually referred to as reflective films, protect windows from scratches caused by rolling car windows up and down,” he says.

“Protection from sun rays that harm motorists and their car’s interiors are also among the reasons to purchase protective films.”

Today’s quality tinting materials eliminate up to 99 per cent ofthese UV rays before they can get into the automobile.

“A somewhat overlooked safety aspect is in the event of an auto accident, window tinting can help shattered glass hold together and prevent it from spraying the inside of the auto with sharp splinters of glass,” he explained.

Glassmakers have now developed a special new type of laminated glass that can be used for side windows, Haddad says. “The new glass, called security glazing or Enhanced Protection Glazing (EPG) is now being fitted as standard or an option on some luxury models. EPG resists attack for a significant period of time so it helps in preventing a thief from gaining access to the vehicle,” Haddad says.

“It can also reduce the severity of injuries in a crash and we hope that manufacturers will soon offer thisglass across the range rather than just on luxury models.”

Another twist to the issue is the standardisation of films from different manufacturers, which according to many motorists, is one of the main reasons behind marginal violations.

“What I presume to be 30 per cent opaque could be marginally over the specified limit,” said Imran Rizwan, a motorist. “Tinting of automobile windows for safety and comfort is appropriate and hence allowed by the authorities. But it is inexplicable why people want to tint their car windows, and in some cases even the front windshield well-beyond the limit.” He noted that the opacity specified by the authorities provides enough privacy, especially to women who mostly prefer tinted glasses for their cars.

According to Rizwan, the authorities are justified in enforcing the rule, and motorists must respect the law ofthe road in the UAE.

afkarali@khaleejtimes.com

 
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