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Welcome back to the Dispatch, Onlia's monthly dive into the intersection of transportation, tech, and everything else you need to know about safety. Hosted by Alex Kelly, Onlia's road safety expert, we'll take a look at Ontario's questionable reduced charges for impaired drivers, explore how Harley Davidson is reinventing its wheels, and delve into some record-setting transportation fails.

Government: Decoded

Following the installation of automated speed cameras, Toronto has been focused on new road safety initiatives, applying technology to some of its most significant issues. New smart technology has been proposed to reduce congestion on city streets, using intelligent intersections and smart traffic signals to manage gridlock.

Sources say Toronto is also mulling over a sea bus system — think the TTC, but on the water — as the city's newest bridge infrastructure is delivered by way of the Atlantic Ocean. Looking ahead to 2021, the city will have fully autonomous shuttles hitting the street. Rolling along without a driver, the shuttles will reportedly be accessible and host eight passengers at a time, throughout the pilot project.

The pandemic has taught us all that we need to be flexible, and the Ontario government is applying the same logic to court dates. To relieve the legal backlog of tickets, the government ruled that they will not pursue criminal charges on some impaired driving offences. Reportedly, "it would allow prosecutors to settle for a guilty plea to a lesser charge of careless driving, an offence under the Highway Safety Act, instead of pursuing a criminal conviction." Road safety advocates have found a silver lining, recognizing this move prevents cases from being tossed out of court.

While Ontario is finding innovative ways to deal with the court backlog, the federal government is investing heavily in road safety. With an announced $10M in funding for road safety projects to "reduce road-related collisions, injuries and fatalities and encourage harmonization with provincial and territorial road safety initiatives." A regular funding pot, this opportunity is open to government agencies, non-profits, and academia. After the year that 2020 has been, we anticipate road safety campaigns around street racing, safe cycling, and education for all the Ontario drivers who had minimized offences due to COVID-19. 


2020 has been a change-up sort of year for many companies, with new business opportunities and pivots abound. Legacy motorcycle company Harley Davidson has just announced its latest venture: electric bicycles. Hopping on the pedalling trend, Harley Davidson is carving out their share of the $15B industry, which is projected to continue to grow. The most important question from this latest venture remains unanswered — does this mean you can call your new Harley (e)bike a hog?

Tesla is getting closer to the consumer delivery of their Cybertruck, although the date is still TBA. We covered this new electric vehicle's press release last December, and Tesla recently reported that the prototype has undergone a few iterations in the subsequent months. Critics expect something similar to the original prototype, with obvious improvements to the failed "smash-proof" windows. Expect Tesla to deliver — they just made good on a 2018 April Fool's prank, producing a new line of Tesla tequila. The lightning bolt-bottled beverage sold out in hours. Apparently, everyone is pivoting this year.

As technology evolves, the corporate responsibility to keep citizens safe evolves with it. Waymo — Google's autonomous vehicle subsidiary — has just released the safety framework that governs their operations. While policies and procedures may not feel like breaking news, this is a very transparent move for an industry typically shrouded in secrecy. Additionally, the self-driving cars of the future still make some people nervous, the World Economic Forum reports — so a safety-first approach may help companies get the customer buy-in they are after. #AllForSafety? We're all for it.

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Transportation fails

Tracking transportation never fails to impress us – and there was so much to choose from this month. First up, we have the 27-year-old man caught on camera by Ontario's York Regional Police driving with a missing tire, open beer, and drugs. Concerned citizens called 911 when they saw the three-tired car sparking down the road. Stitching together the actual 911 calls and police cruiser video, York Regional Police have made quite the case for what not to do.

The Ontario Provincial Police booked a repeat offender near Orangeville, Ontario for speeding  only to find that the driver already had eight separate lifetime criminal bans for driving on his record. This was an unprecedented traffic stop for the local officers who had never seen so many traffic violations on one licence. The 60-year-old driver has been charged (again) and awaits his day in court… again.

A new kind of biker gang is hitting the streets in Toronto, trying to establish a community in one of the weirdest (and busiest) places — the Gardiner Expressway. Northside Bikelife, the collective responsible for the harrowing stunt, used the ploy to promote their group. While their goals are noble (to provide a sense of community for those that feel isolated or alone), their tactics are death-defying. In a city that always gripes about gridlock, blocking a major artery will never win you any fans.

Down the road

As 2020 begins to wind down, we're excited to bring you our annual wrap-up as well as predictions for next year. We'll cover everything that’s happened over the last 12 months, and take a peek at our crystal ball for a preview of what’s to come for 2021. Stay tuned!

Until then, prep for the obvious. With snow around the corner, brush up your winter driving skills, and make sure you're equipped for whatever the season throws at you. Don't just stop at winter tires — ensure you've got a well-stocked emergency kit too.

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