Polishing a Cybertruck might not be the safest idea, but it’s not illegal, traffic experts say

Polishing a Cybertruck might not be the safest idea, but it’s not illegal, traffic experts say
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Polished Cybertruck
The rear-end of Tyson Garvin’s polished Cybertruck.

  • A Tesla Cybertruck owner went viral for polishing his vehicle to have a mirrorlike finish.
  • Some social media users raised concerns that the customization presents road safety hazards.
  • Traffic experts told BI that it might not be safe but there are no regulations around it.

Having a Cybertruck with a mirrored body may not be the safest idea, but it’s not illegal, highway safety experts and a traffic court attorney told Business Insider.

In May, Tyson Garvin went viral on social media for polishing his Tesla Cybertruck to have a mirrorlike exterior.

Garvin told BI that he felt the polishing job was not only an aesthetic improvement but also a practical upgrade. He said the new look helped with the common issue of fingerprint stains on the vehicle’s stainless steel exterior.

But is it safe?

Social media users reacting to Garvin’s customization raised concerns that the car could be a road safety hazard if the truck’s exterior reflected headlights back at drivers — and if the vehicle blends in with its environment on the road as well as it appears to in photos.

The front driver’s side of Garvin’s polished Cybertruck reflects its immediate environment.

Garvin told BI he had similar concerns about drivers’ headlights bouncing off the truck’s tailgate when driving at night. He said a road test he conducted with his wife showed that the tailgate only reflected the road because it is slightly slanted downward.

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Experts told BI there isn’t much literature on whether reflective exteriors present higher risks.

“Reflective glare may pose the same problem for other drivers as headlight glare, but I am not aware of any research documenting whether this leads to or is associated with increased crash risk,” David Zuby, chief research officer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, told BI in an email.

Johnathon Ehsani, a research director at Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, told BI he wasn’t aware of studies that revealed the impacts of a vehicle’s exterior color.

However, Ehsani added that there are two possible “mechanisms” that could make a reflective Cybertruck a road risk.

The first regarded concerns raised online: It’s certainly possible that reflected glare from the vehicle can temporarily blind other drivers, Ehsani said, cautioning that he would have to see the vehicle in person to make a more certain conclusion.

Garvin told BI that the Cybertruck’s shape causes sunlight to reflect onto the ground rather than towards other drivers.

Sunlight can be seen reflected on the ground by Garvin’s polished Cybertruck.

The far more plausible scenario for road risks is not unique to the reflective Cybertruck, Ehsani said.

“The far more plausible case is a crash mechanism that is far more common, that people crash from every single day,” he said,” and that’s that it might attract attention because it’s such an unusual-looking vehicle.”

Ehsani co-authored a 2013 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health that documented the impact of a distracted driver. His research found that drivers are 3.8 times more likely to crash if they divert their attention from the road for more than two seconds.

This issue, of course, is not limited to exotic or highly unusual vehicles, Ehsani said.

“It’s not that different to, for example, looking at a billboard for longer than you need to or even messing around with your entertainment console,” he said.

‘Asking to be pulled over’

A polished Cybertruck may attract some legal burdens even if there are no laws regarding customizing a vehicle’s exterior color.

Martin A. Kron, a longtime New York traffic court attorney and former judge, told BI in an interview that he’s never dealt with a legal issue for a car’s paint job in his 38 years of practice.

But having a car with an outlandish color attracts the attention of everyone — including police officers, he said.

“Although there may not be a spelled out legal prohibition against it, in the real world, if you’re driving a customized car, you’re asking to be pulled over,” Kron said, adding that officers could pull the driver over and sniff out other reasons to give a ticket.

Zuby, the chief research officer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, told BI that the car’s paint job also likely has no impact on insurance rates.

He said that insurers are mostly restricted to using past experiences rather than “predictive assessments” to set rates.

“So, unless an insurer had somehow documented that shinier vehicles had higher losses than less shiny ones, it would be unlikely to affect premiums paid,” Zubu said. “Plus, it’s unclear how an insurer would know that an insured made the vehicle shiny after purchase.”

That is unless your vehicle is featured in a global publication, of course.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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