Exiled E-Scooters, Ontario's Uptick in DUI’s, and What You May Not Know About Your Insurance Policy
Read about all this and more in this month's Dispatch.
Government decodedThe electric scooter boom has been taking the world by storm, emerging from the pandemic-stricken world as a new option for independent urban mobility. Except if you live in Toronto, where the city unanimously voted against the adoption and regulation of e-scooters on city streets. Initially tested on city streets as part of a more extensive, voluntary provincial pilot program, Toronto is opting for safety and accessibility, zeroing in on the most common pain points of the program. Other jurisdictions worldwide – such as New York City and Ireland – have adopted e-scooters, so it’ll be interesting to see if Toronto reverses its vote down the road.
With electric scooters out as a mobility option, it may be high time to get your driver's licence… but get in line. Citing pandemic-related delays, testing centres across the province are dealing with a massive backlog after cancelling 400,000 drive tests during the pandemic. Not just a problem for eager 16 year-olds looking to drive, the lack of licensing limits the ability of students or newcomers that need licenses to commute to work. The province is scrambling to hire drive test examiners but reports being fully booked until the fall.
Ontario is expanding the transit lines in and around Toronto; this seems to be a regular update with little traction, but the province recently announced the federal government has come to the table with $12B in transit improvement funding. The financial boost will support new lines and improvements to the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, including building the Ontario Line and extending the Eglinton Crosstown corridor. However, don't plan your trip just yet – most of the improvements are slated for completion by 2030, with the entirety of the plan wrapped up by 2041.
Betting on batteries may seem like a fairly bland investment strategy, but batteries are the new gasoline as the electric car comes to life. This past month we saw massive moves in the rechargeable world: Manufacturer Clarios just filed to go public with a $20B valuation. At the same time, Tesla just announced they are gearing up to buy more than $1B of Australian battery minerals a year. Big bucks in batteries? Big surprise to us. Guess that's why the Energizer Bunny has such a pep in his step.
Risky driving behaviour has been rampant over the past year, and there is a pretty obvious pandemic connection. The most recent bit of data? Ontario's driving under the influence charges are up – like 20% year-over-year up. As reported by the Ontario Provincial Police, the data highlights that men made up the majority of charges. A tiny ray of hope to this story is that stunt driving was down by 50% during the same reporting period. As summer rolls in, make sure you've got a plan to get home safely that doesn't involve rolling behind the wheel impaired.
Self-driving cars are sold as the safer way of the future, but are having trouble actually getting there. The latest concern? Skateboarders holding on to the rear bumper for a joyride. Popular on social media and YouTube, Forbes points out that we rarely see the falls, but just the cool videos online. As artificial intelligence improves, this is a consideration that developers will need to take into consideration as they code. Failing to do so may mean the car won't detect the ride-hitcher and may not slow down to avert disaster, like a human may. Self-driving or not, the behaviour is hazardous for everyone on the road and something that the future needs to plan for.
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Summer is finally here – bring on the days of beaches, bikes, and barbeques. With that comes increased potential for collisions on your bike, something that insurance may cover you for, in the most surprising of ways. Hitting the road as a cyclist? If you get in a collision and require medical attention, your auto insurance may provide reimbursement. If your bike is stolen? Check your home insurance policy, which may provide coverage for a replacement. Get to know your insurance policy before you get out and about this summer – everyone’s bound to be a little rusty after months at home, and it’s always a good idea to know what you’re covered for.
Legal experts also point out that in an emergency, "if you have car insurance, then you can apply to your own insurance company. If you do not have car insurance, you can apply to the insurance company for the driver who hit you. If the driver who hit you does not have car insurance, then apply to the motor vehicle accident claims fund as the coverage of last resort."
For those without auto or home insurance, you can always check out your tenant insurance for coverage or apply for secondary coverage through your local cycling organizations. Knowing you’re protected on the road is valuable peace of mind.
Video conferencing has let us all work from home, pretty flawlessly. Keywords: at home. Police caught a driver taking a Zoom call while driving down the road at 100 km/hr. Next time you've got to hop on a Zoom call while travelling, perhaps take one of Toronto's recently introduced Wi-Fi equipped buses. If anyone asks where you are, tell them it's a Zoom background.
California police were on the hunt for a Tesla owner posting… exciting videos of his ride on social media. Cruising in the back seat while the car was on self-drive mode, the owner was arrested after other motorists called 911. Don't lose all faith in humanity just yet – the incident has sparked outrage, with calls for social media users to report unsafe driving behaviour shared on various channels.
Although reports above that stunt driving has decreased, don't let that deceive you – there were many stories to pick from this month. However, one of the most cringe-worthy was the 16-year-old busted going 120km/hr in a 60 km/hr zone. To compound the charges, police discovered the G1 driver had taken his mom's car, illegally driving alone and after dark. The nature of the traffic stop meant the officer had to call the teen's mom, but in a moment of compassion, allowed the young man to break the news to his mom, all of which was captured on Peel Police's YouTube page. The driver had to face a car seizure, licence suspension, and the wrath of mom. That's a lesson that won’t be soon forgotten.