Problem Analysis:


There is an emerging trend in the increasing number of vehicles being driven on our roads with tinted, blackened or opaque windows.  This is a serious problem in regard to road safety, crime control and homeland security.


Road Safety Aim:


To reduce the incidence, severity and cost of road trauma in our society. 


In the context of safe driving it is imperative that the driver has full and unobstructed vision forward, to the side and to the rear.  It is also important that the driver is identifiable from outside the vehicle.  The safety factors in window tinting are exacerbated in that headlight glare, poor light, dusk, darkness and wet weather significantly reduces driver vision as well as the required eye contact with other drivers at intersections.


Safety Factors:


Driver visibility to the front side and peripheral vision is a key and critical aspect to road safety.  Temporary or permanent visibility restrictions should not be tolerated.  The safety factors apply to drivers in uninterrupted vision of pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and other road users. 


As a safety factor, other vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motor-cyclists are always advised to make eye contact with drivers to increase their safety.  Heavy window tinting reduces that safety factor to zero.  Unaware of whether they have been seen or not, pedestrians and other road users may unnecessarily place themselves at a high level of risk.


This safety factor of eye contact also applies to two vehicles approaching an intersection at approximately the same time where eye contact between drivers is imperative to ensure safe negotiation of the intersection.   


Crime Control Aim:


To provide a safe, secure and orderly society with a focus on crime control and public order.   In this context driver and passenger identification is imperative where they are perpetrators of offences committed in our community.


Crime and Public Order:


Driving on our roads is a privilege not a right.   Driver identification is critical, not only to the offences regarding road safety but also relative to criminal activities, public order and homeland security.   As such the police, witnesses and the public in general have a right to the best means of driver and offender identification.  The matter of excessive window tinting must be competently addressed as a legitimate crime prevention strategy.   Criminals should not be protected by inefficiencies and laxity in policing these offences. 


Offence context:


Motor vehicles manufactured after 1971 must comply with the Australian Design Rule (ADR) 8/00 for motor vehicle safety with the windscreen having a light transmittance of at least 75%.  Tinted bands on the top of the windscreen are an exception.   Side windows for the drivers direct and peripheral vision should have a light transmittance of at least 70%.


In most instances, the application of window tinting on motor vehicles is a modification after vehicle manufacture.  This modification requires the approval from the respective roads authorities in the various states and territories. 


Over the past few years, there has been a proliferation of companies providing after-manufacture window and windscreen tinting.  Notwithstanding the company statements, many do not comply with the relevant regulations. 


It is also apparent that some imported vehicles do not comply with the Australian Standards. 


The Pedestrian Council of Australia strongly advocates that:


  • Road Authorities in the respective states take strong action to address this issue immediately
  • Non-compliant vehicles should be issued with a defect notice and taken off the road until brought to the required standard.
  • Companies supplying non-compliant products should be prosecuted for each instance of non-compliance.




Ray Shuey

Director, Pedestrian Council of Australia

Former Assistant Commissioner - Victoria Police

Sunday 10 July 2005