With four road deaths so far this year and a record 28 last year, Barbadians must seriously rethink their approach to road safety.
Any measure intended to strengthen policies and laws to reduce road carnage and ensure the wellbeing of all road users, makes good sense and should be welcomed and adhered to, no matter the initial discomfort.
Apart from the new requirement under the Road Traffic Amendment Act, which bans drivers from using their cell phones, there has been concern about the extra scrutiny being given to heavily tinted windows.
Recently, Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley raised eyebrows when he suggested there should be a ban on tints, and that only people in certain professions should be allowed to drive around in vehicles with tinted windows.
Lashley, who declared up front that he was offering a personal opinion, said: “I believe that given the fact that so many criminal offences [are committed] by persons who drive into districts with heavily tinted vehicles and you can’t see not even the person’s eye or finger, that I think is [contributing] to the rise in crime and the types of crime that we have. We have to look at whether we remove tint altogether or whether tint should only be allowed for certain persons holding particular jobs in Barbados.”
His views were immediately challenged by some who suggested that any such ban would be an invasion of privacy. But is it really?
Under our current laws, the tinting of vehicles is allowed to a certain degree.
Section 20 (7) of the Road Traffic Regulations 1984, clearly states: “The glass of all windscreens and all windows on the outside of every motor vehicle shall be made of safety glass and the owner of the vehicle shall not permit the glass to be tinted to such a degree as to make the driver of the vehicle unidentifiable from a reasonable distance by a person outside the vehicle.”
Therefore, the law allows drivers who wish to tint their windows to do so, but requires them not to tint to the point that it becomes a safety or security concern.
So why must some drivers break the law by virtually blacking out the windows of their cars? Or rather, how are these drivers allowed on the road with such dark tints when every vehicle must undergo annual inspection by the Ministry of Transport and Works?
We all can agree that in our tropical climate there is need for tint to shield us from the sun’s direct rays and to cut down on the heat, reduce glare, or conceal items in the vehicle that might otherwise tempt thieves.
However, when tinting is done to the extent that it breaks the laws that were put in place to protect the lives of drivers, passengers and other road users, it is certainly unwarranted.
A road is a public space where rules have to apply, even if it means less privacy in one’s car.
If glare is a problem, wear appropriate sunglasses. If the car is hot after being parked in the sun, use the air-conditioning, and if privacy is a concern, keep valuables at home.
Experts have warned that drivers who cannot properly see out of their windscreens or through rear view mirrors are a danger to themselves, their passengers and every other road user.
Furthermore, heavy tints obstruct the work of the police, making it difficult for them to see whether drivers are flouting other road rules, such as not wearing a seat belt, using their phones while driving, or not ensuring that children are strapped in safely.
Police also need to be able to identify suspects in criminal cases.
Just yesterday, Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith said it has been a challenge enforcing laws related to tinted windows, but he served notice that lawmen will be watching.
Drivers would do well to put aside their personal desires and to adhere to the law which is obviously in place for the public good.