TINTED WINDOWS David Lawrie, Director NPHTA

You may recall last month that we ran an article on this subject, but this is an issue which is becoming more and more of a hot topic, since there are so very few vehicles available that have clear glass as standard, or indeed these days as an option, let alone a choice.

The professional approach

We described the reasons why professional car manufacturers have moved towards tinted rear glass, and why they’ve been approved by all regulators in the motor vehicle industry as follows:

Darkened rear windows:

1. Reduce UV rays and therefore improve passenger health and safety.

2. Reduce the level of light passing through rear windows, bringing down glare and therefore improving passenger comfort.

3. Reduce the amount of sunlight passing through rear windows, lowering the heat within the vehicle, which then reduces the use of air conditioning, which in turn improves fuel economy - reducing harmful emissions.

Since last month’s article in PHTM, we have collated responses from a FOI request sent to all councils asking their current stance on this topic.

The current situation

Without listing all councils, filling this month’s update with a complete chart, this time we will show the totals in order to demonstrate the disparity amongst councils; this is one of the issues we have raised repeatedly with the DfT and various other bodies, so as it stands right now: -

National legislation – Construction and Use regulations

177 local authorities have taken a common-sense approach, following the national legislation, which states that 75% of light must pass through the windscreen, and 70% of light must pass through the FRONT passenger windows – there are no national restrictions on ANY rear windows.

For those councils, take a bow; the entire industry applauds your approach. Why reinvent the wheel, right?

Personal opinion – desire

56 councils have gone over and above national legislation, stip- ulating how much light must be transmitted through windows.


As if that were not enough, it is also potentially a breach of the Regulators’ Code 2014,, which stipulates that decisions and activities must be evidence-based and not just opinions.

My question to local authorities is quite simple: Do you want new vehicles or not? If you do, then you really need to review this policy as applied to the licensed vehicles in your district.

Exemptions 23 of those councils have exemptions to their policies.

Some of those exemptions are for performing school runs. We are not entirely sure how this works: do these vehicles need to have their windows changed between journeys to comply (yes, we are aware that there is a minority that ONLY do school contract work)?

Some of those exemptions are for those who choose to have CCTV installed. OK, we can live with that since the same level of protection is achieved. But without the wasted cost of changing windows, or losing passenger comfort, this exemption allows for far better protection as it creates defence and evi- dence where it matters.

Currently under review, or due to review soon

44 local authorities are currently reviewing this issue, maybe as an individual item, or as a part of an overall policy review. We do suspect the former; since many licensing policies are subject to consultation right now since the new statutory standards were released last July. Hopefully the result will be to follow the 177 above, to have a desire for new vehicles, and therefore see the issue at stake here.

No reply yet – since January.

Sadly, we do have to report that after months of patiently waiting, and reminding local authorities that we need this information, 135 have failed to respond.

We understand that things have been rather hectic this last eighteen months, with various aspects of licensing having


Some of them stipulate that all windows must allow 70% of light to pass through, and yet they want modern vehicles. Good luck with that.

Some of those have stipulated 20% maximum tint; this is even less tint than the windscreen of most vehicles, let alone any other windows. Not only does this massively restrict the availability of any new vehicles, but it also places a burden on testing stations to have their light meters calibrated every single year to make sure the testing equipment used is compliant and fit for purpose.

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