The February Dispatch
This month, we cover NYC's new penalties for careless drivers, the problem with Ontario's new licence plates, automated delivery vehicles, and more.
Welcome back to the Dispatch, Onlia’s monthly dive into the intersection of transportation, tech, and everything else you need to know!. This month we dive into NYC’s latest way to deal with bad drivers, check-in on Toronto’s speed camera initiative, and take a look at the latest self-driving movement in the U.S.
Globally, road safety advocates have been pushing for speed limit reductions in cities – it’s one of the most effective ways to reduce serious injuries and fatalities on our roads. Despite the fact that this may greatly increase your chances of survival in a collision, it can be a hard sell for car-centric cities – like the GTA. Researchers have just driven this point home for Toronto, releasing study data that shows a 67% decline in serious injuries and fatalities for pedestrians when speed limits are decreased. For this hotly contested issue, it remains to be seen if the data will be embraced by City Hall.
At the provincial level, Ontario has just released a remix of vehicle license plates, featuring a blue background with white text. While some appreciate the refresh, police have mixed reviews about the visibility of the plates in dark conditions. Government officials have assured the public that the plates went through extensive visibility testing, but real-life photos highlight issues. Like the old plates? At the time of writing, you can still order custom plates with the old colour scheme.
New York City is trying to crack dangerous driving by all means necessary. The latest idea? Sending offending drivers back to driving school. New Yorkers with a poor driving record (think 15 speeding tickets or five red-light camera violations) will be sent to a driver safety course. Don’t want to go back to school? Violators face potential vehicle seizure. The initiative is the first of its kind in the U.S., and was informed by data that reviewed the behaviour of serial traffic offenders.
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Federally, the US has approved the first automated delivery vehicle, Nuro, to operate on public streets. The driverless electric vehicles don't have pedals, windshields, or steering wheels – basic elements that dated regulations would typically require. Nuro’s foray into public testing indicates a big move for the self-driving industry, as the government acknowledges old rules don’t necessarily work for new ideas. Regulatory shifts may open the door for advancement, while speeding up deployment of autonomous vehicle applications.
Toronto’s speed camera project saw the December installation of 50 speed cameras across the City’s wards, designed to take photos of traffic offences as they happen. Meant to be a deterrent for bad behaviour, automated enforcement measures can be a very polarizing issue.
Critics of this program have taken their disdain to the streets, and reports of vandalism and theft of the cameras have been widespread – before tickets have even been issued. While no one likes to get a ticket, we have to ask – isn’t sticking to the speed limit easier than committing a crime of theft or vandalism?