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Do Tinted Windows Cause More Car Accidents in Denver?

by  on  Car Accidents & Motor Vehicle Collisions

Everyone knows that car accidents in Denver cause serious injuries, deaths, and extensive property damage. What is not as well understood are the causes of those accidents. Often, a collision can be the result of many factors that create a perfect storm of conditions.

It makes sense that if you reduce the number of factors that affect you when you drive, you can reduce your potential to experience a crash with severe injuries. Most would agree that driving while distracted is a factor to be avoided. Reckless and aggressive habits like speeding also obviously contribute to accidents. But what about modifications to vehicles such as tinted glass? Do tinted windows make you more likely to get in an auto accident in Denver?

Understanding Tinted Windows

When window glass is tinted, that means it has been darkened to reduce the amount of light passing through the glass. This can protect the privacy of vehicle occupants and prevent as much ultraviolet light from entering the interior, often keeping the inside cooler.

Most cars in the U.S. have a certain amount of window tint applied during the manufacturing process. This tint is built into the glass itself. The consumer would have no way to remove it or make it lighter. In most vehicles, the heaviest tinting is on the window glass in the rear, with much less tinting on the side windows and windshield. Factory tinting is fairly light because manufacturers want to comply with limits in various states and localities.

Although there is no way to lighten the factory tint on windows, consumers can darken the tint through a custom aftermarket tinting service. These companies add a film to the windows that can reduce the damage caused by UV light, increase privacy, and reduce theft. The film can actually hold the glass together if the window is shattered in an accident, so in that sense, it can make the vehicle somewhat safer.

Visible Light Transmission (VLT)

The degree of tint to a window is measured based on the degree of visible light transmission, often referred to as VLT. This measures the percentage of light that passes through the glass. A window with a high VLT such as 80% only blocks 20% of the light. By contrast, a window with a VLT of 10% would block 90% of light and let in very little light. Most factory tinting is set between 75 to 85% to comply with state requirements.

In Colorado, lawmakers have established specific VLT standards for different window positions in various types of vehicles. Tint darkness for the front, back, and rear windows in most vehicles must be higher than 27 VLT, letting in more than 27% of light. (However, if the front windows have at least 70 % VLT, then the back side windows and rear window can have a VLT percentage of any level of darkness.) On the windshield, tinting is only allowed on the top four inches of glass, it must be non-reflective and at least 70 VLT.

Other Tinting Requirements in Colorado

Factory tinting is far less than allowed by Colorado law, so the laws apply to film applied to windows by aftermarket service providers. Red and amber tinting may look distinctive, but it is not allowed in Colorado. Additionally, tinting may not have a metallic or mirrored appearance. Some jurisdictions allow exceptions to tinting restrictions if a driver can demonstrate a medical need, but Colorado does not.

If a back window is tinted, state laws require the vehicle to have dual-side mirrors. Certain jurisdictions may be subject to local laws with more stringent guidelines. Denver does not currently have an additional local restriction, but laws are always subject to change.

The Dangers of Tinted Windows

So why do Colorado and other states set limits on window tinting? One answer is that dark windows make it difficult for police to make eye contact with and identify drivers. Dark windows also make it easier to conceal weapons in a vehicle.

But there is also a concern about the reduction in visibility caused by tinted windows. When side windows are tinted, a driver’s peripheral vision is much less effective. Pedestrians and bicyclists can be much harder to detect. Lawsuits have alleged that tinted windows keep vehicles from operating safely.

Reduced visibility can contribute to car accidents in a number of ways. Drivers can have an unrealistic perception of speed. The contrast between heavily tinted side windows and an untinted windshield can make it difficult for a driver’s eyes to adapt. If the windshield is tinted, the driver is hampered in the same way as if they were wearing sunglasses at night.

Illegal Tinting May Be the Biggest Danger

Tinted windows give a vehicle a sleek look that many drivers find appealing. They may be tempted to exceed allowable limits on window tinting to get a uniform look. In addition, tinting reduces sun glare which can in turn reduce eye strain.

However, the reduction in glare is no excuse for violating tinting restrictions. Anyone in an accident with a vehicle with tinted windows should try to take pictures or collect other evidence to show the degree of window tinting. This evidence could show that reduced visibility caused by window tinting contributed to the causation of the accident. Both the owner and the company that applied the illegal tint could be held liable for injuries from the accident.

Contact an Attorney if You Were Involved in an Accident with a Vehicle with Tinted Glass

Researchers are still reviewing the connection between tinted glass and the type and severity of motor vehicle accidents. If you or a loved one suffered harm in a collision with a vehicle with tinted glass, contact the experienced legal team at Levine Law for a free consultation and case evaluation. We can review the circumstances and explain your options for seeking compensation for your losses. We serve clients throughout the Denver region with locations in Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Loveland, and downtown Denver.