The News Behind the News – The Scoop OnWindow Film Use On Big Rigs
By Darrell Smith, Executive Director & Jack Mundy, IWFA Board Member (Article from IWFA Spring 2012 Newsletter)
It’s amazing how one person can really get things rolling! In this case, the person sits be- hind the wheel of a tractor-trailer.
In 2010, an IWFA board member in Canada, (Jack Mundy), was contacted by a Canadian tractor-trailer driver. This man explained he had been receiving expensive fines from law enforcement for having window tint on the sidelites of his cab. The driver had skin cancer. His doctor had suggested he use something to screen out the sun’s harmful UVA rays – linked to cancer.
Word of this situation arrived at IWFA’s offices, and it was decided the situation should be addressed. Lynwood Butner, president of Butner Consulting, was dispatched by the IWFA to review Canadian and US regulations regarding window film on commercial vehicles over 26,000 pounds – tractor-trailers.
Studies on skin cancers revealed a majority of the most harmful melanomas occur on the upper left-hand side; the arms and shoulders of people. The most logical connection was the impact of the sun on unprotected skin when driving for many hours at a stretch. Truck drivers are top candidates for the problem. A similar study in Australia showed the same pattern of cancers, but on the right side of the upper body. In that country they drive on the right side of the road.
As a special consultant to the IWFA, Lynwood Butner brings over 30 years of experience in transportation safety, policy and enforcement. He most recently served as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Based on conversations that Lynwood had with other transportation safety and enforcement officials across the US, Canada and with our federal government, it was decided that a better understanding of window film was needed by the policy making and enforcement communities, in addition to a clarification of existing regulations at the federal level.
Over the course of many months, The IWFA’s executive director, Darrell Smith and Lynwood met with the Department of Transportations’ (DOTs) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It is this body that regulates interstate law enforcement of big rigs. Following the meetings, the FMCSA clarified the safety regulation to allow the use of “clear” window film on the left and right sidelites of the cab.
On September 26th, 2011, FMCSA wrote a letter to the IWFA and said in an excerpt from the document, “historically, the enforcement community and the trucking indus- try have clearly taken the position that ‘no’ film was allowed on any vehicle operated as a commercial vehicle.”
“Sadly long-haul drivers, have faced skin cancer as ‘one of the hazards of the job’ and we hope to help change that with this important clarification”
The agency further wrote that such enforcement would have been done contrary to regulations and that anyone encountering an instance where compliant window films have been disallowed should contact the Office of Enforcement and Compliance in the FMCSA. It also had published guidance stating that big rigs may use “clear” window films as long as at least 70 percent of the normal light is transmitted.
On April 3rd, 2012, with the support of the American Trucking Association (ATA), a national organization representing commercial transportation carriers, the IWFA announced big rigs can legally apply window film to the cab’s side windows to keep drivers safe from UVA rays, which have been directly linked to skin cancer.
“The health and safety of America’s truck drivers is of the utmost importance to American Trucking Association,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “Whether it is doing more to battle obesity and sleep apnea, or helping our drivers avoid skin cancer, ATA has consistently advocated for sensible regulations to ensure our drivers get and stay healthy. We appreciate the efforts of the IWFA to help our industry take another step in that direction,” he added.
“The clarification provides information that impacts millions of truck drivers who drive many hours at a stretch in ‘big rigs’ weighing more than 26,000 pounds,” said Darrell Smith, executive director of the IWFA. “The FMCSA has agreed with the International Window Film Association that the use of ‘clear’ window films with a net minimum 70 percent visibility rating installed on the front side windows is permitted,” he added. “Sadly long-haul drivers, have faced skin cancer as ‘one of the hazards of the job’ and we hope to help change that with this important clarification,” said Smith.