Commentary Local

Blacked out rear windshield may not be so cool after all

Visibility would be next to nothing during twilight and at night if the rear windshield is fitted with tinting below than 30 per cent VLT.

Written by TheMole

May 15 2019

By Shahrim Tamrin

 When I was in college, almost everyday my ‘national’ anthem before going to class was Pearl Jam’s ‘Rear view mirror’.

 Back then, these lyrics kept humming in my head:

 Once and for all

I’m far away

I hardly believe

Finally the shades, are raised… 

So, when it was announced last week that no limit percentage Visible Light Transmission (VLT) for window tinting is allowed at the rear passengers area including for the rear windscreen, for some unknown reason that particular song came back flooding.

Perhaps my subconscious was in deep thought, unable to grasp the likely trend of private cars in Malaysia having minimal lighting at the rear windscreen and may reduce the role of rear-view mirror.

 A rear-view mirror is one of the most basic and indispensable tools for defensive driving. So important that Tengku Marwan Tengku Mahmud or rather known as Cikgu Marwan, a road safety consultant as well as one of the top driving and riding instructors in Klang Valley, considers rear-view mirror as second-eye to man a vehicle. It is an item that any driver cannot do away, he says.

Moreover, a blacked out rear windshield hinders a clear view for bikers, pedestrians and cyclists. According to a study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council, it is vital for these vulnerable road users to exploit the see-through windows for traffic cues.

A solar film technician told me visibility would be next to nothing during twilight and at night if the rear windshield is fitted with tinting below than 30 per cent VLT.  

“It will be also difficult to gauge the rear view when it is raining. Also, darker (tint) window doesn’t necessarily translate to cooler (car) cabin,” said the technician based in Subang Jaya with 20 years of experience in car accessories business.

Big ask for law enforcement

Over the years, Malaysia has received low marks for poor enforcement on rear safety belt by World Health Organisation (WHO). In the latest global road safety report released late last year, the UN agency gave Malaysia low marks with a score of four out of 10 for seat belt enforcement. In the region, we scored lower than Myanmar (7), Vietnam (6), Singapore (8), Indonesia (8) and Thailand (6). 

The WHO report stated that rear seat-belt compliance in Malaysia is 9.6 per cent. A study by Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) also outlined road deaths could be reduced by 44 per cent if the passengers at the backseat wear the safety belts.

We seem to forget rear seatbelt law has been in existence in the last 10 years. It is a common knowledge that many just don’t care to buckle up at the backseat most of the time. Psychologically, shady and comfy ambience can influence rear passengers not to buckle up. No policeman can spot you either if you don’t wear the safety belt.

Rear seat-belt usage is not just about buckling up. If you are sitting at the back and you don’t ‘click’ that safety belt, you could become a missile in a road crash. You can view a crash test video in the YouTube, in a crash at 64 km/h impact, the unbelted crash test dummy catapulted to the front akin to Mohamed Salah’s rocket shot.

WHO has also stated that back seat is not the safest place for kids in the event of a crash if there’s no proper child restraining system in place.

While many are drowning with the news and excited with the prospect of minimal lighting at the backseat, we forgot about the new legislation for child restraint such as the infant seats, child seats and booster seats that will be tabled in Parliament in 2020.

At this moment, with the prospect of excessive tinting in family cars, road safety advocates are not sure about the level of determination by the parents to protect their children in the car since it will be extremely difficult to spot violation and to gauge the trend of public acceptance on child restraining system.  

When asked about the upshot of the new tinting policy may bring, Child Passenger Safety Malaysia operations director Jchanet Tan said: “This is a setback against child safety advocacy.” 

“More parents may not even want to purchase and put the child seats in the car since they know enforcement officer won’t be able to spot any violation.”

Going back to the subject, I dread to think someday rear-view mirror will only be useful for putting on make-up/lipstick, apply eyelashes or to fix driver’s hair.

Hmm well…the Pearl Jam song is still humming in my head. ♬♩

Saw things so much clearer

Once you, once you (rearviewmirror)

Saw things so much clearer

Once you, once you (rearviewmirror)

 (Shahrim is passionate about saving lives on the road. He is a Miros board member since January, a recipient of a road safety award from Asean NCAP in 2016 and part of ICFJ-WHO Safety 2018 Reporting Fellowships)



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