The Dangers of Window Tinting

Over the weekend, I was exiting onto Preston Avenue from Circle Drive into Stonebridge. If you know the area, you know you will approach a ‘T’ intersection, or three-way stop, before turning right onto Gordon Road or left onto Hartley Road.

Rules of the road state that the first motorist to arrive at the intersection has the right to proceed ahead of those that arrive after. But on this particular occasion, I arrived at nearly the same time as another motorist. What now?

As I bet many motorists do, sometimes unknowingly, I attempted to make eye contact and establish some sort of communication with the other motorist. However, this was prohibited by the tint applied to their front side windows. This made it decidedly difficult to determine which of us should proceed first so as to avoid a collision.

This is just one example of why window tint is dangerous and illegal in the province of Saskatchewan. A violation of the Vehicle Equipment Regulations (VER), it carries a $115 or $150 fine, depending if your vehicle weighs more or less than 11,000 kg.

There is a common misconception that window tint is applied by manufacturers in the factory assembly of the vehicle. In actuality, no manufacturer in the world applies tint to their vehicles. The reason for this is because it alters the way the glass is designed to react in the event of a collision. As the vehicle leaves the factory, windows are designed to break apart upon contact to reduce impact. By applying a tint, your window has been altered and now has qualities similar to that of a solid wall and could stop you at a force that causes you more harm if in a collision.

Dark windows can also be an obstruction for nighttime driving by severely hindering a driver’s ability to see pedestrians and road signage. Driving in the dark with tinted windows has been likened to driving at night while wearing sunglasses.

Pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and other drivers rely on the ability to see each other, oftentimes making eye contact when sharing the road. Whether it is to indicate right of way, waving someone into traffic or to let a pedestrian know the vehicle is stopping and it’s safe to cross, eye contact can be as effective as turn signals in the right situation.

Don’t risk a collision. If you’re walking and you know you have the right away, do not disregard your personal safety to declare that right – let the vehicle pass. If you’re a fellow motorist like I was this weekend, do not take it for granted that they see you – the headache and consequences of a collision aren’t worth it if they don’t.

window tint

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60 Responses to The Dangers of Window Tinting

  1. Rick says:

    Is there regulations on which windows can be tinted and to what degree? I was always under the impression that the rear windows of a vehicle could be tinted but not the front, is this incorrect?

    • The Vehicle Equipment Regulations state that no film or tint can be applied to the front passenger windows. The rear windows are able to be tinted, but I’ve put in a call to our Traffic Unit to find out if there is a maximum per cent of tint allowed. Stay tuned!
      And thank you for the question!

  2. Trevor says:

    Tinted Window law is a revenue generator. The example you’ve provided has no mmerit. I would hope when people arrive at an intersection at the same time they would follow SGI guidelines which state the following;
    “The person on the right has the right away”

    Thanks

    • I respectfully disagree with your comment that the example has no merit. And yes, while the person on the right has the right of way (if arriving at similar times), do you really want to risk a collision to assert that right? The effects of a collision can be expensive and long lasting, both physically, financially and emotionally.

  3. Kelly Whitbread says:

    I was always told that when coming to a three or four way stop intersection and you and another car reached the intersection at the same time. The person on the right had the “right away”. Is this the truth?

  4. Gillian says:

    I live in Las Vegas and sometimes I drive up to Saskatoon to visit family. All my windows are tinted quite darkly because of the heat here. Could be given a ticket for them even if I have out of province plates?

    • Good question. It would depend whether tint is legal in the province, or in this case, state that registered the vehicle. We can issue the vehicle a ticket, or at the minimum order an inspection, if the vehicle is registered in a province that also doesn’t permit tint on windows.

      For instance, I believe that it is legal in Ontario to a certain percentage. So if we came across a vehicle with Ontario plates that had tinted windows, we wouldn’t issue that motorist a ticket.

      Hope this helps answer your question.

  5. Andrew says:

    Eye contact is not required. The driver on the right has the right of way if both vehicles arrived at the intersection simultaneously.

    page 138 of the traffic safety act: http://www.qp.gov.sk.ca/documents/english/Statutes/Statutes/T18-1.pdf

    219(1) If two vehicles arrive at an intersection at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right of way to the driver of the vehicle on the right.

    I find your argument regarding tint at intersections to be unfounded.

    • You are welcome to your opinion. If you disagree, that’s fine but it doesn’t change the legislation. Tickets will continue to be written for it.
      And yes, while the TSA says that the person on the right has the right of way, is that going to matter if one or the other doesn’t obey it? While we hope that everyone knows the rules of the road, we attend collisions all the time that contradicts that. In my honest opinion, it would be better to use common sense and avoid the possible headache and annoyance that could result from a collision. The repercussions can be draining both physically and financially. The question now becomes: Would you rather get into a collision because you were simply right, or would you want to avoid it if possible?

      • Andrew says:

        Hi Kelsie,
        Thanks for approving my comment, and taking the time to respond, it’s appreciated.
        I agree whole heartedly that many drivers do not follow the rules of the road, defensive driving is a must.

  6. Tyler lakeman says:

    The Americans to the south of us seem to have tinted windows and seem to make it through a day of driving just fine. You guys can’t make up your mind why this is illegal. First you tell us because of shattering qualities of the window that because an officer can’t see the contents inside of the car and now this. Make up your mind. This is just a huge money grab!

    • Cody says:

      I agree it’s a money grab. They want to be able to see inside the vehicle to tell if we’re wearing seatbelts, but won’t come out an say it… Southern US a vast majority of vehicles have side window tint, and response down there shows no greater impact from accidents because of it. This law needs to be revisited. I’ve talked to several officers who also don’t agree with it but must enforce it as it’s their job .

  7. Trevor says:

    When two vehicles arrive at a 3 or 4 way stop at the same time doesn’t the vehicle to the right have the right of way? If they are across from one another the one turning yields to the other…..no?

    • Yes, you are correct. But what if the other person doesn’t know that? They would be at fault but it still has caused a collision that you’re involved in.

  8. Here’s a link for you, from the good people at SGI:

    http://www.sgi.sk.ca/individuals/licensing/studyguides/drivershandbook/roadrules/rightway.html

    [quote]At an intersection where there are no stop signs, yield signs, traffic lights or police directing traffic, and two vehicles arrive at the intersection at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left must yield the right of way to the driver of the vehicle on the right.[/quote]

  9. Ken Cole says:

    I always thought the term was “right of way” not “right away”(as in quickly).

  10. Johnathon Lukan says:

    Just a minor note: you say it’s ok to tint the rear but not the sides. But the fact is the rears are also designed to break a certain way, so in my opinion I think that that fact is incorrect. Also hindering your ability to see at night I will agree with to an extent. With how the new vehicles headlights are set up they are extremely bright and are very hard on the eyes wether they are behind or in front of you. The tint does take some glare off and makes it easier to see in front of you. The other problem I have is window tint does not make you a worse driver. Again in my opinion Saskatoon has the worst drivers I have ever seen. No signal lights, unable to properly merge and extremely bad 4 way stop skills. I want to make it clear that I don’t agree with blacked out side tint, at all. But I think there should be a 50% limit. I will admit I have had tint on my sides and absolutely love the idea, it has saved my vehicle from being broken into. I came out of my house one night and it had just snowed. I went to my truck and found foot prints coming from the ally way to my drivers door and stop. But because my yard was dark and my tint was on they left instead of breaking in and stealing my valuables. I feel so much safer. I have backed up at night into my stall with no problems. I have no aftermarket tail lights or reverse lights to help. Like I said I think there is a limit. You should be able to at least see the person. That’s all my opinion and like to hear feedback on that. Thanks

    • Thank you for your comments, Johnathon. You have done the same as I have done in my blog post by providing examples and, while I used an example of why tint is dangerous, you have proposed possible benefits of it. I agree that all windows are designed to break a certain way, but legislation has only been passed for the front side windows, which doesn’t necessarily make that fact incorrect; maybe just not as encompassing. To your example about the tint acting as a deterrent for a potential B&E, there’s no evidence to support the fact that a person was going to break in, you are just assuming by the footprints. Now, you may or may not be right, that’s not for me to say, I would offer the opinion that it may not have been the tint, but perhaps another deterrent, such as motorist or a pedestrian, etc., that may have spooked the person you alleged to have almost broken into your vehicle. The fact is, if someone wants to break in to your vehicle, they will, tint or no tint. That should be the key. And I am not saying that tint makes you a worse driver, as you have alluded to, simply that it increases an unnecessary chance for an incident to happen. The focus of the blog post is that it can be dangerous while driving – to both you and your passenger and everyone else you share the road with. While you may not have yet had an incident while driving with tinted windows, that’s not to say that it won’t ever happen. The adage goes, “never say never”. And as said by another person that commented, defensive driving is a must. Take preventative measures to ensure your own safety.

  11. Brian says:

    Maybe you should re read your drivers handbook. So you don’t have to look at people to figure out what to do at a four way stop. Window tint is legal in the majority of provinces and states. Saskatchewan is just so behind the times.

    • Then what would you say to those that might not know that rule? While it’s our hope as a police service and fellow road users that people know every rule, we write tickets, witness violations and attend collisions that would question that belief. Would you rather be involved in a collision because it was your right to go first, or be able to avoid it by simple communication?

      • Brian says:

        I would say that if you are having difficulty not knowing what to do when driving you could contact a driving school for help. Maybe the province should have mandatory written or online testing every five years to remind people how they should be driving. I would also say its people like this that can’t zipper merge because they are scared to drive properly without the other car waiting and giving them the eye contact or approval they are wanting to feel ok about their decision on how to drive. Saskatoon traffic is too busy to have this type of driver on the street and I think that makes it more dangerous.

  12. Rich says:

    I think the issue is that what you are saying is .. the window tint law is basically a law used as padding if another law is broken. You really can’t hold someone accountable for someone else’s mistake, no matter what. If someone does not know the rules of the road then the onus is on them to learn them or pay the consequences.

    When you make a law that forces someone to do something “just in case” some other person breaks the law or is a terrible driver it’s too much. It’s charging someone for future-crime at best. “What if” is not grounds to punish someone.

    I can’t imagine the strain on everyone in a trial situation if an accident happened because somebody did not yield the right of way to someone who had front window tint.

    Should people crossing streets be forced not to wear sunglasses in case they decide to jaywalk in front of someone without making eye contact? Eye contact is a method of defensive driving, not a regulated necessary action. If laws were put in place restricting equipment that may in a situation make a method of defensive driving difficult – we’d see a LOT of silly laws. This is just one of them.

    Front window tint at absolute best should be limited to a certain %. I’ve heard arguments from law enforcement officers saying front tint makes it impossible to see what someone is going in their car when pulled over. That is the only remotely valid argument I have heard. How about just a % limit?

    • jesse says:

      i just got a ticket for having 30% on my car that i just bought like two weeks ago. I can very, very easily see thru it, both day and night, from outside the vehicle. Hell i can easily see thru the limo black in the rear, from inside anyway. the kicker is i wasnt even in the car, a buddy borrowed it and came back with a ticket giving me two weeks to report back with tint removed. and later on i saw the cop who wrote the ticket, and he looked at me and said” you knew it was coming buddy!” not impressed. A week earlier same cop pulled me over with the same tint for an out tail light, warning for the light and no problem with the tint. think these small town cops need to get the real menaces, you know, people driving erraticly, stunting, blowing stop signs, not knowing which person has the right of way and holding up traffic, and lets not mention the cop i passed in the opposite direction in calgary last week who was clearly talking on his cell phone, and paid no attention to my tint.

  13. Yolanda says:

    I was in Ontario when the law regarding front window tinting was brought in. I remember a salient radio discussion and an excellent “rule of thumb” for determining if the tint was too dark. The DJ said “Well, just thumb your nose at the cops, if they can see you, the tint isn’t too dark.”
    I see the practicality of requiring clear glass in the driving area of a vehicle. Driving really is too serious to mess with. You’re piloting a lethal weapon and there’s enough distractions and issues without creating some for dumb reasons. Rear tint, though, lets you park in the sun with the tint keeping the car cool if you park in the right angle, as well as offering some privacy in the vehicle.
    As to the 4 way stop example, if you aren’t sure, proceed slowly to take the turn, or be more patient so the other driver does. That way, even though the other driver may not know how the law works, you still won’t trade paint. After all, in the end, not trading paint is the primary goal.

  14. There are advantages and disadvantages of window tinting. As mentioned above, dark window tints can be dangerous most specially to those people driving during night time. They might not clearly see the road and worst will end up having an accident. Now, there are places that they have laws for window tints which are a good precautionary measure to prevent us from getting harm.

  15. Rob says:

    if the police can see in all windows and they have tint on them not sure why i got a ticket,,,the front glass is bullshit its going to break even if there is a film on it and i can see at night and people walking across the street,, i guess people will just get all the other windows as dark as possible now thanks to the police……

  16. Timm says:

    Many regions are cracking down on window tint because it is an easy way for quick revenue and it gives the police a reason to pull someone over. Be careful of the law.

  17. Thomas says:

    There should be a percent limit. I plan on having the rear windows in my truck double tinted as I often have tools in there and don’t want them stolen and the front windows with a very light tint, to help keep truck from burning when siting for twelve hours at work… As for visibility, it’s a truck, I have a great view of everything around and a little tint will not hurt me… And my car, I can barely see out the back window regardless of tint so how is that safe….. If someone is at an intersection and doesn’t know what to do and they need eye contact to reassure themselves, maybe they shouldn’t be on the road……. What about my motorcycle helmet, that lens is tinted, and that’s just like having a full tinted windshield, how is that legal then.

  18. Nick says:

    I also agree with being able to have a limited tint. It does not change how the glass breaks that’s just a myth don’t believe me click a ball point pen on both clear and tinted windows they will shatter the same just you don’t get shards of glass in your eyes with the tint rendering you NOT able to make eye contact lol. Ever have a black truck with black leather seats ? You will understand the tint then. Now back to the original reason why I felt the need to comment , I think that window tint laws are ridiculous. Why are you worried about tint when you should worry if the vehicle is safe to even drive ,there should be mandatory safeties on vehicles every 5 years. that should be the priority trust me I’m a journeyman automotive service technician and see vehicles that should of been pulled off the road years ago but they never left sask so they are perfectly safe ( yeah right ) but a brand new vehicle from out of province requires a saftey. That should be the real discussion screw the window tint if you knew what the other persons vehicle is like you probably wouldn’t want to drive beside them. And if you don’t know what to do at a 4 way stop you need your licence taken away. Please feel free to write back

  19. Marc says:

    People get tickets very often for dark window tint, when it gets dark out there are chances you’ll crash and it is very hard to see through your mirrors. Anything more than 35% will be hard to see out of at night.

  20. Cody says:

    Side window tint is fine. Too dark to see out of? Obviously whoevers saying this has never had the priveledge of driving a vehicle with side tint, and is saying what they’ve heard others before them say.. I have and it’s not dangerous at all. As far as how it shatters, sure the tint holds it together somewhat upon impact, which can be a good thing. Would you rather be cut and scarred from shattering glass? And for seeing the road with tint, I don’t see why people are so concerned about staring out the side windows while driving… Last I checked you look out your front window more than your side windows.. Maybe that’s why I’ve been rear ended in past ?!

  21. nolz says:

    …what is the tint shade limit on front side windows in Ontario…?

  22. Herb says:

    I had side window tint on my Super duty for years while living in Alberta. Shortly after moving to Saskatchewan I got fined and had to remove it. I miss my window tint, especially on the day I almost pulled out in front of a semi because the sun was setting and I couldnt see. 3 years later a man died in Shellbrook in that same spot and the sun was to blame. Probably would have lived if he had window tint. The window tint was also great at night for those fallowing with bright headlights, I wasnt blinded by my side mirrors while I had the tint.
    But seems typical, money grab and waste of time. There are more severe crimes the police could be fighting rather than window tint. But Im sure the residents in my area feel much safer now that I dont have my side windows tinted anymore.

    • Window tint at night can also be very dangerous in limiting your ability to see pedestrians crossing at streets or other cars approaching.

      And, to try to correct your assumption of what we do, please visit our website to see the different units we have dedicated to fighting different types of crime. You can also find statistics on the crimes that are reported, along with traffic infractions, crimes against property and crimes against the person. It’s further broken down into different divisions of the city: http://www.police.saskatoon.sk.ca/

      Regards,
      Kelsie

  23. pat says:

    I used to drive professionally, It seems most people cant remember the simple rules of the road, and being right can mean being dead right. Window tint in my experience is an aid in event of collision the glass shatters as designed but the tint holds is together enough so it doesn’t spray into the faces of the passengers. If safety is the concern due to the effect on glass then no windows should be allowed to be tinted. All windshields are laminated 2 pieces with membrane in the middle they hold the glass from dissipating on impact. It’s ok for the rear passengers ? And as to visibility, its easier on the eyes due to less glare. I used to drive night shift and found myself more alert and better practice due to less fatigue caused by bright lights flashing signs etc..And finally window tint has uv reflective as well ,cuts down on deterioration of the interior. changing safety belts on race cars every year, one of the reasons for this was deterioration caused by uv. thanks p

  24. Jason B says:

    Nothing to do with TINT!!!! If two cars arrive at the same time the one to the right goes. Not decided by friendly gestures. I agree tint can be too dark and applications to the windshield are illegal and make it dangerous, but this incident was not caused by tint.

  25. Tim Underwood says:

    The SGI needs a place to inspect side windows to see if they are too dark. We got a ticket and a request to remove tinting that is not too dark. The visibility is just fine both day and night. When a law is implemented it should include inspection places so issues like this can be evaluated.
    Just saying no tint is ridiculous.
    They want me to pay a fine and then ruin my car.
    It’s time you hired an engineer to help you set some responsible standards.

  26. Mikaela says:

    So its not allowed to have any window tint at all in the front? what if it is a light percentage? I would like to get tint done in the future with my car but I dont want to make my car illegal. so is there just a no tolerance for it or is there slight?

  27. Michelle Plummer says:

    It seems as though there are not very many people commenting here even a little concerned about safe visibility for driving at night. All of the arguments regarding why it should be ok to have very dark tint….care nothing about realistic and sensible safety concerns. I guess looking cool with dark windows is much more important than being safe and responsible. Comment made from a grown up that doesn’t care to look “cool” in a tripped out ride and has nothing to hide. I do have light tint to reduce heat inside the vehicle. At least I can see pedestrians not wearing bright reflective clothing at night and vehicles parked in “no parking” areas on the street. Too many idiots allowed to drive and just pay fines.

    • Paul says:

      OK so my 80k truck with 35% front side window tint is clearly a tricked out whip… Obviously I’m using the tint to hide weapons of mass destruction from the police… Or maybe its to protect the interior of my 80k investment. I’m not concerned about looking “cool”. The law is ridiculous. You can have rear tinted side windows but not front side windows so obviously there is no concern for driver or passenger safety when it comes to the glass breaking. Why do we laminate windshields (For extra protection…). Tint laws exist so law enforcement can see inside your vehicle plain and simple. I ride a motorcycle with a tinted visor(obviously trying to be “cool” right?) and I can see fine at night when I don’t switch it to the clear one. I can see better on extremely sunny days also. Maybe there should be a law on how tinted your friggen sunglasses can be because when it comes the argument about visibility during the day what’s the difference between tint and sunglasses. As for night time I can shoulder check just fine with limo tinted rear windows. I think some statistics on accidents at night caused by tint need to be collected. This law needs to be revisited. This is Saskatchewan not Los Angeles. We don’t drive around with guns in our laps. Not everyone is trying to be “cool” for the record. Bad drivers are the problem and in this province there are way to many of them. Rant over.

      • Traffic stops are some of the most dangerous for officers both in Canada as well as in the U.S. They are also where we do find weapons and drugs without prior knowledge. If you would like the law changed, please contact your MLA or MP. We do not make the laws; we enforce them.

  28. Bruce Potter says:

    The author has stated numerous times that despite numerous benefits being identified for tinting side windows (reduced glare off mirrors, blocking blinding headlights, protection from flying glass, and protection of valuables) – he cites a lack of evidence to support these benefits as a reason that tinting side windows must remain a crime.

    Could the author share his evidence that supports how statistically accidents have occurred solely as a result of side window tinting?

    Other than his ad hoc description of an exchange at a T intersection (which presumably didn’t result in an accident), it would support his argument if he also provided the evidence to support the dangers of tinting that he is seeking from tint supporters.

    I have no tint, so I’m relatively unbiased, but the arguments support tinting appear to much stronger than those against it. At the end of the day, the author’s comment: “You are welcome to your opinion. If you disagree, that’s fine but it doesn’t change the legislation. Tickets will continue to be written for it.” – implies that it may be time to seek change to the legislation.

    Since the vast majority of those responding to the blog have offered credible reasons that tinting not only doesn’t create a dangerous situation, but it may also enhance safety on the road with the author offering no evidence to the contrary – the democratic process should be used to change the legislation and eliminate or change a law that doesn’t seem to address the situation it was designed to protect us against.

    • It doesn’t much matter what argument we provide. As you point out, the majority of people support tinting of windows, despite legality and safety concerns raised. As stated, that’s their opinion and we cannot change that. However, we also cannot change legislation. If you think it’s time to get that changed, please contact your local MLA.

  29. Ceili says:

    Kelsie, I took a look at the Regs. I don’t see where it states no tint or film.

    Could you please advise?

  30. Bobbie Jo Justice says:

    Police, because who else would “protect us” from the “dangers” of window tint?

    Why is it that thugs with badges and other government goons can have dark window tint, but not the citizens?

    We need to eliminate ALL window tint laws.

  31. Jennifer Turner says:

    Personally, I hate window tinting because it obstructs my view of traffic and signs/signals ahead. As a driver, one must use all visible data to make the best decisions, even those seen through the glass of other vehicles. I think it makes the roads unsafer in general due to reduced visibility of those around the tinted person. I find myself changing lanes to see the road ahead much more often than I change lanes to pass a slower vehicle. I think window tinting is a selfish thing to do.

  32. rafael says:

    I bought a car that had tinted windows. I have never had one with tinted windows and after driving it I realized how the tinted windows reduced my field of visibility. I found myself having to roll down the windows while driving just so I could see. At night, it got even worse, tint at night is pitch black.

    One night coming from a friends house, I was merging left into a lane, I checked my left mirror to look for traffic and glanced back to check my blind spot, I took the turn and collided with a vehicle that was in my blind spot. Only a scratch to their paint but my vehicle being smaller ended up with a dent on the door and a bent fender.

    I hate the tinting of windows … I agree it may keep your car cooler during a hot day but that’s what air conditioning is for and if you don’t have a/c roll the windows down.

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