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Council mulls over change to tinted windows regulations for its taxi services

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council considered proposed amendments to the Taxi Licensing Policy that would adjust regulations concerning the tinted windows of hackney carriages and private hire vehicles.

The move comes as the current policy is seen as outdated in light of new vehicle manufacturing trends and Department for Transport (DfT) guidelines.

Under the existing regulations, established in 2019, taxi vehicles must not have rear passenger windows that prevent more than 65% of light from passing through. This policy has presented challenges for modern vehicles, which often come with pre-installed tinted windows that fall short of these requirements, leading to licensing difficulties for taxi operators.

In a report, the Service Director for Regulatory Services laid out the council’s motivation for revisiting the window tint standards. The proposed changes aim to better align with the latest vehicles on the market, many of which feature manufacturer-installed tinting that does not comply with the current 35% light transmission minimum.

The committee is considering two principal amendments. The first would allow only factory-fitted tinted or privacy windows, banning aftermarket modifications. The second proposal is more accommodating, proposing to permit tinting that blocks up to 82% of light (with a 2% tolerance), provided it adheres to the Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986.

Data presented by the council highlighted the pressing need for policy revision. Since December 2022, 17 vehicles were tested for compliance, and a significant number failed solely due to their window tint levels not meeting the 35% transmission standard. Such failures not only hinder compliance but have also led drivers to seek licences in areas with less stringent requirements, resulting in lost revenue and regulatory challenges for the council.

The council’s push to modernise taxi regulations reflects a broader trend of aligning local policies with national standards and modern vehicle designs. This move is partially influenced by the DfT's latest best practice guidance issued in November 2023, which advises licensing authorities to consider the practicalities of modern vehicle features, including tinted windows, against public safety concerns.


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