Aftermarket customization is a fairly standard practice among truck fleets. New parts and peripherals can transform stock vehicles into more efficient, longer-lasting or safer equipment to meet specific needs. Window tints are one such modification that can fly under the radar for many fleet managers.
At first, tinted windows may seem better suited to consumer vehicles than commercial trucks. Despite this preconception, they offer several practical benefits for truck fleets. Here are five advantages.
1. Prevents UV Damage
Trucks can be on the road for 11 hours a day, not including the time they spend parked. That adds up to a considerable amount of sun exposure, which could damage the interior through ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Fleets can prevent this damage by installing window tints.
Most windshields today block most UV rays, but side windows are not required to offer the same protection. Tinting these windows will block more potentially harmful wavelengths, keeping the truck’s upholstery and dashboard safe from damage. This protection, in turn, can reduce long-term maintenance costs.
Blocking UV light can also protect drivers. People who spend too much time in the sun without protection could harm their skin, but UV-blocking tints provide shade to stay safe.
2. Blocks Sunlight From Drivers’ Eyes
UV radiation is not the only danger the sun presents. At the right angle, bright light could also make it hard to see, especially if it reflects off other surfaces within or nearby the truck cab. Tinted windows can block excess light to prevent this glare and the danger it poses to drivers.
Studies have found that life-threatening crashes are 16% more likely in bright sunlight than in normal conditions. These risks also contribute to roughly 5,000 more patient days in the hospital for people involved in these accidents.
Just as window tints block UV waves, they can also reduce the harsher end of the spectrum of visible light. This lessens glare, making it easier for truck drivers to see where they’re going and what’s happening around them.
3. Protects Against Thieves
Window tints can also help fleet managers by reducing theft. Trucks and buses account for 16.9% of all stolen vehicles in the U.S. and as much as 20.5% in some regions. Thieves may also steal company property or drivers’ valuables out of cabs if they can see what’s inside. Tints aren’t a comprehensive safety solution, but they can help prevent these crimes.
Tinted windows make it harder to see into a vehicle’s interior, especially at night when drivers are more likely to be away from their trucks. As a result, opportunistic criminals are less likely to see anything of value in the cab, preventing the temptation to break in.
Preventing theft can save fleets on repair costs and reduce expenses from lost inventory. Drivers will also appreciate the extra sense of security for their own belongings.
4. Maintains Comfortable Temperatures
Tinted windows also keep interior temperatures cooler in the summer. Because tints block UV radiation, they also prevent sunlight from creating a greenhouse effect within the truck cab. This has several advantages for fleet managers.
First, cooler interior temperatures make things more comfortable for drivers. People that aren’t distracted by the heat on a long drive find it easier to remain focused. They’ll drive safer and experience higher on-the-job satisfaction as a result.
Reducing in-cab temperatures can also prevent ongoing maintenance issues. When the interior doesn’t get as hot, the truck’s air conditioning won’t have to work as hard to cool it. Consequently, fleets can avoid complications from overworked or overheated AC systems.
5. Secures Broken Glass in an Accident
Another easily overlooked advantage of tinted windows is their resistance to shattering. Tints don’t necessarily make glass stronger, but they can hold broken pieces in place, preventing lacerations and other injuries from broken glass in an accident.
Adding tint to a window involves applying a thin layer of film over the glass. If a truck gets into an accident, shattered glass will stick to this film instead of falling onto the road or into the cab. Any accident can endanger drivers, but keeping this sharp debris away from them will help minimize injuries.
Fleets can’t assume drivers will never get into an accident. In 2020 alone, more than 100,000 large trucks were involved in injury-causing crashes. Steps to prevent these incidents are crucial, but additional mitigation measures like keeping glass in place are still necessary.
Considerations for Tinted Truck Windows
Given these benefits, many fleets may choose to tint their truck windows, but their efficacy hinges on their implementation. Here are some key factors to consider when tinting commercial truck windows.
Choosing the Right Kind of Tint
First, fleet managers must determine which kind of tint is best. Each type offers unique advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to consider fleets’ specific needs and goals carefully.
Dyed film tints are the least expensive option and one of the most popular, but they’re also the least durable and don’t block as much UV light. Metallic and ceramic tints offer more resistance and light-blocking, but they’re more expensive. Metallic coats may also interfere with radio communications.
Fleet managers should list what they want from their tints and their budget, then compare estimates from various vendors. It may be most economical to start by tinting just a few trucks before slowly modifying the rest of the fleet.
Fleet managers should also consider local regulations in the areas drivers pass through. These laws vary by state, so it’s important to find the most stringent regulations drivers may encounter and abide by those.
Tint laws address how dark these coatings can be for different windows and how large the tinted line on the windshield can be. Both can vary widely. For example, Alabama allows side window tints of 32% and a 6-inch windshield line, while California lets side windows use up to a 70% tint but permits just 4 inches for windshields.
As with other legal considerations, it’s best to err on the side of caution. If resources say different things about the law, opt for the stricter option to remain in good standing.
Tinted Truck Windows Can Have Surprising Benefits
Many small changes can have substantial impacts. Something as straightforward and seemingly insignificant as a window tint can protect drivers, reduce maintenance costs and prevent theft.
Fleet managers looking for ways to improve any of these areas should consider tinting truck windows. With a careful approach and enough research, making these modifications can result in impressive benefits.
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