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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. This month, we're looking at harsher penalties for stunt driving, Canada's electrified future, and how 24/7 access can help you out of a jam.

Government: Decoded

Frustrated by the lack of government action, one Toronto resident took matters into his own hands. Despite years of requesting speed reductions, the city has failed to lower limits on Fee Gunn's residential street. In response, the resident used the inner workings of old hard drives to create a mirrored sculpture of sorts, completely covering a tree in his front yard. This artistic neighbour feels that his reflective sculpture will provide a visual "speedbump," requiring curious motorists to slow down to take in the attraction. Road safety advocates are split on this type of strategy, acknowledging it may cause more distraction than de-acceleration.

Signed, sealed, delivered — the stunt driving ticket is yours. The Ontario government officially passed the proposed Moving Ontarians More Safely Act (MOMS), making it law as of July 1st. The new legislation increases the penalties for speed racing and stunt driving; a licence seizure increases from seven days to 30, in addition to a 14-day vehicle seizure. The speed thresholds have changed too, so expect to get hit with the MOMS-related law if you're caught going 40 km/h over, a reduction from the previous 50 km/h. Politicians and road safety advocates alike hope this will slow the roll of Fast and the Furious wannabes. We're curious if the penalty — or the mental image of your MOMS wagging her finger at you — will be incentive enough to pump the brakes. Either way, this bill is necessary as drivers continue to clock higher speeds, often with fatal consequences.

Let's get electric! Canada is investing over a billion dollars in making electric vehicles more affordable while also increasing access to charging stations across the country. With an ambitious goal of having all new passenger vehicles sold in Canada be electric by 2035, the government is handing out funding to communities and organizations to get them plugged into the goal. From BC to NWT to the University of Waterloo campus, the feds have been busy this month, doling out funds to charge things up. Also part of this initiative? Electric buses — the feds announced a $1.5B investment into a zero-emissions bus initiative. Positively electrifying.


There seems to be a new startup joining the self-driving car race daily, but this one had us take note. Raquel Urtasun — artificial intelligence wiz kid, University of Toronto prof, and former head of Uber's Autonomous Technology Group – has gone out on her own with the creation of Waabi. With backing from major AV players like Aurora, Waabi is focusing its initial efforts on commercial trucking, using a simulator to keep things safe while accelerating the development of their self-driving tech.

For students unsure of their return to campus this fall, the University of Waterloo may have sweetened the deal a bit. The school has just shared that they will be operating the country's first driverless shuttle at an academic institution, operating remotely on new 5G technology, to transport students and staff around campus. To ensure safety amongst the crush of students running late for class, the shuttle features 360° cameras, LIDAR sensors, and a remote operator that can override the controls if needed. The biggest question of all: if you're late for class, can you blame the technology?

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Insurance demystified

Insurance can feel like a "set it and forget it" part of adulting. Pay your premiums, make sure the policy is up to date, carry on. But what if you get in a collision? Insurance has gone the way of shopping – online and accessible 24/7. This includes the frantic moments post-collision.

The insurance industry is digitizing what used to be a clunky, in-person interaction. Additions of online account management, live messaging, and chatbots have turned insurance into a 24/7 industry. While that may sound appealing to few, picture this – you get in a five-car pileup on a busy highway, after typical 9-5 business hours have ended.

After making sure everyone's okay and that you've dealt with the immediate issues (police, fire, ambulance), you want to know that your insurance company is available to take your call. That's the benefit of a more online, accessible insurance industry – one we're happy to have helped modernize.

Transportation fails

Traffic can make the best of drivers bug out. But what about when a bug causes the problem? A driver in the United States was face planted by a rogue cicada, an insect that emerges every 17 years to mate. The surprise caused the driver to veer off the road, striking a telephone pole and crumpling the car's hood. The driver sustained only minor injuries, but unfortunately, the cicada was pronounced dead at the scene.

We're often curious about the motivation behind some of the most daring transportation fails, and recently, the New York Times dove into Brazil's bus surfing phenomenon. In the coastal city of Olinda, bus surfing is a choreographed routine of complex maneuvers while defying bus operators or dodging violence. Part protest to high transit fares, part nothing better to do, bus surfing has become the country's rebellious answer to economic and political hardships. The context is interesting, but the consequences are still risky – a completely avoidable transportation fail.

Down the road

Travel is coming back online, and for that, we are grateful. Plotting a trip by train, plane, or automobile may have you stoking the bank balance for a bit more "fun money." We’ve been loving tips from the Millennial Money podcast, which tracks guests' spending habits, challenging them to whittle down their expenses to increase their savings and learn from their mistakes. With the new normal on the horizon, there’s no better time to squirrel away from funds like the present.

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