champers

50 months ago

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Side tints: Threat, self-defence tool or both?

Things are getting dark

Things are getting dark

by Paul Fenn

Contributing Editor

You know when you’re riding through a busy intersection, in the right lane, past left turning cars, and into your field of play creeps a right-turning car with tinted side windows? That feeling when that car keeps rolling forward into your trajectory? That thought that says, “I can’t see through your side tint, so I have no idea whether or not you can see me, and if you can, whether you’re gonna stop and give me my right of way or roll in front of me because you’re selfish, clueless or psycho?"

I dislike that feeling immensely

And I’ve been getting it more and more lately – on my 950SE, in my car and on my bicycle. It seems there’s a steady increase in people opting for tinting the front side windows – the ones to the left and right of their head – that they need to use to check for traffic when making a left or right turn, and to check their side mirrors through. And to be seen checking by others. I’ve been wondering why this increase is happening.

So I’ve been asking people

When I see someone get out of a car with side tints, if they don’t look overly dangerous, I’ll sometimes say, “Hi there! Motorcyclist here, just wondering at the motivation for tinted side windows. Do you find they make driving a bit more uncertain, more stressful?” Some ignore me. Some tell me to fuck off and mind my own. And some tell me why they’ve side tinted. I ask, not because I’m judgmental or a nosey parker, but because I’m curious and because I ride a motorcycle, so I like to conduct detailed threat analyses on new phenomena for reasons of self-preservation. I've discovered that, like everything else these days, side tints even carry some political baggage.

Small penis or merely UV-averse?

Small penis or merely UV-averse?

I have black friends, some of whom side tint

A couple of them tell me it’s because of the Driving While Black statutes in the Ontario Highway Code. They’d prefer not to be seen from behind or from the side, because it might trigger a pull-over by the police – especially if they drive a luxury car – and this is insulting and wastes their valuable time. Being a white guy, I’m sympathetic and think, “If I were a black person, I’d probably do the same thing.” So there’s a question partially answered.

What about the rest of us?

I see lots of white people and other non-black people side tinting, too. So what’s up with that? I asked a Hispanic buddy of mine why he does it. “Because it keeps the car cooler in the summer, man.” Another viable answer indeed. But does it really keep the car cooler? These days, most cars have partially tinted windows all around. Both of ours do, and they’re old cars. The one with black leather seats does get very hot in summer, but the other, with beige ones, not so much. So the plot on this question thickens.

Here's to us never meeting out there

Here's to us never meeting out there

I asked a few of my Asian friends why they side tint

More than one female said something like, “It stops the sun damaging my skin.” As a guy who lived in Southeast Asia for eleven years, and who’s been married to an Indonesian woman for some 15, I’m well acquainted with the general dislike of UV rays by Asian people, particularly Asian women. So there’s yet another helpful answer.

What about the white folks?

I asked some younger white guys I know at the rock gym why they side tint. One told me he likes to smoke a dube on the way home from work and would prefer not to be seen doing so. Great answer. Another said, “It looks cool.” Yet another said, “It’s badass, man.” OK, so research is yielding results here.

What about my needs?

What about the needs of every other road occupant out there? There are plenty of times when as road users we need to know if the other drivers have seen us or are looking at us. It’s part of the deal with have with each other, like that famous deal we have with the pigeons that they’ll fly out of the way at the last second before we run them over.

That would hurt

That would hurt

I’m that old that I come from the pre-tint era

My dad taught me to drive when I was 16, in the ‘70s. It was a gentler time, at least in Toronto. Almost no cars had 500 or more horsepower. Not very many even had A/C. Traffic wasn’t too bad. Drivers were mellower, less hurried, less dangerous to themselves and others. Cars were less safe, too, so you needed to keep a lid on your wilder impulses while driving, or risk your own life.

What my dad said

My father, Victor, RIP, was an ex-RAF Spitfire pilot, a Brit and a cautious, thoughtful man. Having survived the London Blitz as a teen and later seeing lots of action over Europe and SE Asia, by the time I was born, he'd later tell me, he’d had enough of risk. He’d reached his capacity for it. Thus he aimed to teach me to drive defensively. Not that I wanted to put this policy into practice, but I at least appreciated its logic, and would apply a little more of it with each passing decade, such that now I’m rated a “Grandmother +” on the Cautiousness Index when I make my way around the public roads.

On the trails, I’m a flat-out lunatic. But that’s a different sphere of moto-human interface, so I’ll leave it out of this discussion.

Obluevious

Obluevious

The point of this?

I think side tints are dangerous and should be discussed. They often scare me, make me feel insecure and at risk when encountering them on the roads. I also think there are arguments in favour of them. I should add that I’ve driven cars with them and didn’t like the reduced visibility, because it made me feel less aware of my surroundings and more likely to hit things I'd rather not hit. 

What do you make of side tinted windows?

Hope you’ll answer in the comments.

Anyone in there?

Anyone in there?

Want more of this sort of thing? Go here.

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Draug

49 months ago

Arg, tinted windows drive me mad. As you said - Unable to see them, do they see me? I work in the theatre industry so I have to do a lot of riding at night. There's a reason people don't wear sunglasses at night, despite what the song says, because you can't see shit through them? But at least you can take sunglasses off. How badly do tinted windows impair night vision? Especially when motorcycles are so tiny and already SMIDSY "It came out of nowhere!" on a clear day in broad daylight. My bike's black/grey, my gear's black/grey, my reflectors only work if light is hitting then to bounce off, and stack on top of all that I can't see if the driver is aware I'm there because their car windows create a pitch black interior. Let's not throw night-time drunk drivers, or as you mentioned, pot users, and worst of all, cell phones. I tend to try to make myself as visible as possible with lane position, extra reflective stickers and decorative lighting on my gear. When I get the dreaded blacked-out turner, I cover my horn and brakes. If we're headed the same direction I try to pass them as quickly as is safe. I thought front-sides tinting was illegal in Ontario, I found https://www.tinting-laws.com/canada/ontario/ that states there's no law -against- it, to quote: "Ontario laws do not expressly specify whether front window tinting is legal or not. According to Ontario Highway Safety Act (linked below), you may not drive a vehicle if: ((Subquote)) "[…] any window to the direct left or right of the driver’s seat […] substantially obscures the interior of the motor vehicle when viewed from outside the motor vehicle." " I suppose it's like how "there's no law specifically against filtering but if the wrong cop notices you, you'll get slapped with stunting or reckless endangerment". Does the officer feel up to pulling someone over because their window's shaded over 30%? Or is it just a post note in the negligent homicide court trail when some Dodge Charger doesn't see you during his obscured shoulder check? I am very much for "see and be seen" for survival, so tinted windows - especially at night - are a massive peeve of mine. And really, some of the reasons you were given couldn't be solved by say - Window shades when parked, sunscreen, not smoking pot while driving because it's dangerous and illegal, not putting priority on 'looking cool' over 'not killing someone'. Blegh.

The_Instructor

50 months ago

Enjoy your pov. It'd be brilliant to have your notes on a few of my safety articles here @the_instructor

The_Instructor

50 months ago

👊😎👊