Ontario: New Law Limits Level of Window Tinting, Cyclists Rejoice

Update: see previous post – January 16, 2010 Tinting Motor Vehicle Windows

Row of parked bicycles.
Row of parked bicycles.

see source

Cyclists in Ontario are applauding new laws that go into effect today and will reduce the amount of allowable window tint on vehicles.

New laws prohibit the front windshield from being tinted after market and stipulate windows to the right and left of the driver must not block more than 30 per cent of light.

There will be no new limit for rear windows.

While the law technically goes into effect today, they only affect cars built after Jan. 1, 2017.

Oliver Swainson, who manages City Cyclery in Windsor, Ont., says tinted windows make it difficult for cyclists and pedestrians to know whether the driver sees them.

So, he approves of the changes.

“You can’t tell that that driver is seeing you and it’s almost like Russian roulette as you pass in front of that car,” he said. “If you can see that they see you, it’s a sign of recognition that you’re both aware of each other, you’re not going to hit each other.

“When you can’t make that visual eye contact, it’s very nerve-wracking for both.”

It’s a view shared by police in Ottawa.

A police board report issued in March called the current Ontario laws regulating window tint “vague and problematic.”

“Windows that have too much tint can obstruct the view of the drivers and can make it difficult for pedestrians to make eye contact with drivers prior to stepping off the sidewalk to cross the road safely,” the report reads, in part.

Police also say less tint makes it easier for them to look for distracted drivers, who may be on their cellphone, for example.

Also known as light or tint meters, photometric meters are used to determine how much light passes through a car window.

A police officer in Gatineau, Que., uses a light meter to test the tint of a car window. A report coming before the Ottawa Police Services board on Monday will urge Ontario to match its rules with those that exist in Quebec.
A police officer in Gatineau, Que., uses a light meter to test the tint of a car window. A report coming before the Ottawa Police Services board on Monday will urge Ontario to match its rules with those that exist in Quebec. (CBC)

In Quebec, drivers can be ticketed anywhere from $154 to $525, depending upon the size of their vehicle, if their front side windows fail to let in at least 70 per cent light.

Not ‘end-all, be-all’ solution

Some cyclists say the new laws could prevent “dooring” incidents because they may now be able to see inside the car sooner as they approach — even though changes will not be made to rear window tint.

“If you can’t see effectively out those side mirrors, you have increased risk of striking a cyclist,” Swainson said.

Swainson said the new laws are “not the end-all, be-all” solution.

“It’s one more small step in making our streets safe,” said Swainson, who has been struck at an intersection in the past.

The last update to the province’s laws around car window tinting was in 1990.

Nationwide, approximately 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured every year in Canada, according to CAA. Sixty-four per cent of cyclist deaths from traffic crashes occurred on city roads — those with a speed limit up to 70 km/h. The remainder occurred on rural roads.

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