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Unexpected Speed Bumps in the City, Pop-Up DriveTest Centres, an Emissions Cartel, and Being Prepared For Natural Disasters

Get the 411 in this month's Dispatch.

Alex Kelly
by Alex Kelly
Welcome back to the Dispatch, Onlia's monthly dive into the intersection of transportation, tech, and everything else you need to know about safety. This month, we're looking at an emissions cartel, prepping for natural disasters, and why you may want to think twice about the latest TikTok trends.

Government: Decoded

If you're driving around Toronto, get ready for a bumpy ride. As part of the city's commitment to the road safety concept, Vision Zero, Toronto has given some intersections a glow-up. Drivers making a left turn at some busy intersections will pass over new speed bumps designed to slow the rate of travel and encourage a sharper turn. Traffic engineers hope this will encourage drivers to look out for pedestrians and other road users while decreasing turning speeds. Watch out for the bumps as you make a left (statistically, one of the riskiest maneuvers in driving).

While you're slowing down through the city, you may also be slowly making your way through the backlog of driver licensing tests. COVID-19 brought the world to a halt, including 700,000 would-be drivers in Ontario waiting for their licensing test. The wait is over, as the province has announced $16M in funding for temporary testing centres to help mitigate the backlog. Now that you may be hitting the road sooner than you thought, make sure your car insurance coverage is good to go.

For those opting for active transportation options to get around, Transport Canada recently announced the country's first-ever National Active Transportation Strategy, kicking off a $400M investment over the next five years. Dedicated to promoting transportation options like walking, cycling, scooters, and wheelchairs, the strategy will work to dole out funds to communities eager to add trails, cycling paths, and other active mobility options.


Reporting on transportation news may seem dry until we stumble across headlines implicating automakers BMW and Volkswagen in an emissions cartel. While a Netflix exposé may not be in the cards, this illegal collusion was enough for the European Union to hand down a $1B fine to BMW and VW, punishment for working with other mobsters Porsche, Audi, and Daimler to keep environmental emission reduction technology under wraps since the 1990s. Colluding in this way kept the earth-friendly tech off the competitive market, creating an industry scheme that allowed continued greenhouse gas emissions. And we wonder why Canada's working to ban the sales of new internal combustion engines vehicles in the coming decades.

Electric cars are a promising alternative for the future of transportation but are currently undergoing a few fiery growing pains. Auto manufacturer GM recently issued a global recall for nearly 70,000 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles due to faulty batteries that are, quite literally, catching on fire. After two fires, the manufacturer recommends that owners charge their vehicles outdoors and keep the batteries from depleting past a certain point until they can finalize the recall. Fingers crossed the issues are resolved quickly, or the future of electric vehicles may go up in smoke.

Planning a post-pandemic trip to Vegas? If you need a car to drive down the Strip, Halo may have the tech for you. The autonomous electric vehicle company uses the 5G network to deliver cars to people, who then get in and drive away. The catch? The car you summon is driven remotely by a Halo team member, leaving the car cruising Vegas unoccupied. A hybrid car rental delivery service, Halo offers a market entry point for unoccupied vehicles while leveraging lightning-fast connectivity of 5G technology... all as easy as ordering a pizza.

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Insurance demystified

Everywhere we turn, there is a new natural disaster. Wildfires out west, tornadoes in Barrie, flooding throughout parts of Europe. Natural disasters are devastating, and depending on the type of disaster, they may catch you off guard. July's tornado in Barrie did just that, rendering over 20 houses uninhabitable, with a price tag that industry experts peg at well over $25M.

Sifting through debris is never a great time to figure out if you've got insurance coverage for damages. Basic auto insurance is standardized in Ontario, but additional coverage for perils, like fire, theft, hailstorms, floods, earthquakes, riots, or planes landing on your vehicle, aren't automatically included.

Specified perils – some insurance lingo for you – like that are detailed in an add-on called comprehensive coverage. For drivers looking to save some money, opting out may feel like an excellent financial choice… until you've got a cracked windshield from hail or airplane parts land on your car.

If you're a student, or have a student heading back to campus this fall, check in on your insurance. Just like coverage for natural disasters, college and university pose all sorts of risks for damages, a headache you can get ahead of with coverage geared towards students. The best part? You can purchase peace of mind in the form of tenant insurance for the price of a few lattes – much easier than dealing with accidentally pouring coffee on your new laptop).

Transportation fails

Sharing your tastes in music is great, but there’s a time and place. One York Region driver chose to drive impaired, only to share their Apple Music picks when an officer asked for a driver's licence. After running stop signs, tossing litter, and putting a child's life in danger, the officer had no patience for this driver's confused antics, arresting them at the scene.

Proving you can't keep up with the kids anymore, drivers on Toronto's Gardiner Expressway took in what we can only assume was a TikTok video. Teenagers were hanging out of car windows, speeding down the highway, high-fiving their friends in other moving cars. What?! The timing couldn't be worse, as these high-speed stunts come on the heels of Ontario's recently adopted Moving Ontarians More Safely Act.

Down the road

Summer is coming to a close, which means roads will start to get busier. Expect commute times to increase with people going back to the office and kids heading back to school. September is the time for safe driving campaigns and enhanced enforcement measures – as you're commuting, pay attention to community and school safety zones where fines are increased, as well as repositioned automated speed enforcement cameras.

Protect your car & home with Onlia Insurance – and get extra discounts while you’re at at.