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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 and insurance. This month, we're looking at thousands in rental penalties, speedway test tracks, and a local moose alert program that's saving lives.

Government: Decoded

A win for technology: Toronto's automated enforcement cameras (aka speed cameras) have actually been shown to reduce speeds on city streets. The pilot project's good news story comes after the first year of implementation, which showed a downward trend of speeding from July to November 2020 compared to the same measured time period in the previous year. Met initially with a lot of frustration, the pilot has proven itself, so be on the lookout for more cameras potentially coming to streets near you.

Time's run out on your expired plate stickers — the Ontario government just announced that the extension offered as a pandemic relief strategy is coming to a close. This means expired licences, plate tags, and other out-of-date documents will no longer be eligible for deferral. The province is giving almost everyone until February 28, 2022 to renew, and bonus — you can do most of it online. Just note that if you haven't renewed during the pandemic, you'll be stuck with the backlogged fees, in addition to any current fees.

If you live in a Canadian border town, the roads may have been a little busier than usual lately. This August, Canada opened up its land borders to fully vaccinated Americans, allowing them to enter for non-essential travel for the first time since March 2020. And travel they did — the Canadian government reports that the number of travellers entering the country doubled in the first week of opening. While individuals driving across the border is still much lower than pre-pandemic rates, this influx is the most we've seen in a long time. Ontario and the Pacific region had the highest number of visitors, with all border provinces experiencing a surge.


Finding testing grounds for self-driving vehicles can be tricky — many public roads don't have the regulatory framework to support it yet, while private roads may not offer long enough stretches to adequately test technology. So autonomous driving manufacturer, Nuro, did what any company valued at $5B does — took over the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in a $40M move to create a 74 acre, 125,000-square-foot assembly facility and test track. The long-term vision will scale production of the company's battery-powered robotic delivery vehicles, currently used to drop off things like FedEx packages, pizza, and groceries.

The authorities are catching up to Tesla and not on the highway. After 11 collisions where a Tesla plowed into an emergency vehicle, the US's National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has launched an inquiry into the vehicle's Autopilot mode. Despite flashing lights and well-marked vehicles (ahem… like large, red fire trucks), the car's detection system failed to recognize and mitigate the risk. This scrutiny is the latest for the troubled automaker, as Tesla has been under the microscope due to several seemingly preventable collisions. At the announcement of the NHTSA inquiry, Tesla stock dropped by 5%, and the company wasn't prepared to comment on the investigation.

If you're planning a road trip to Newfoundland and Labrador this fall, there is a bit of local knowledge you'll need: when to call moose. Seriously. The large and in-charge animals are common in the eastern province, and with weights up to 700kg, can cause severe and even fatal damage to motorists. The local Save Our People Action Committee has launched a hotline for motorists to report roadside moose sightings. These sightings are then broadcast on local radio stations, hopefully preventing dangerous collisions with the four-legged creatures — a charming solution to a terrifying issue.

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Insurance Demystified

Recently a traveller in BC opted for a pick-up truck at the rental counter, only to end up in a hailstorm that damaged the vehicle. Thinking she'd have coverage to deal with the claim, the renter was surprised to discover that her travel credit card wouldn't cover the larger vehicle, putting her out $4000, all out of pocket. As the demand for rental cars continues to rise thanks to increased cross-border tourism, it's time to brush up on the liability basics.

A recent survey found that many Canadians aren't clear on their auto insurance coverage details, which doesn't bode well for rental insurance agreements either. If you're picking up a rental, either for a vacation or work trip, the rental company will ask you if you want insurance coverage. This is different from your own personal insurance, and pays into the broader corporate coverage against damage or loss.

Some renters decline, opting to apply insurance coverage offered through their travel credit card. All well and good, as long as you've checked the fine print. While Onlia offers coverage for your rental, not all insurers include it with basic coverage. Give your insurance and contract review the same diligence you would insuring your own vehicle and property; there’s no better way to ruin a holiday than having to pay to fix someone else's car.

Transportation Fails

Speaking of rentals– don't feel bad if you can't afford a Lambo. The driver driving the souped-up luxury car may not be able to either. Recently a London, Ontario driver was pulled over for driving 122 km/h in a 60 km/h zone. Thanks to Ontario's updated street racing rules, the vehicle was suspended roadside for the mandatory 14-day period. The rental company wasn't happy that its Lamborghini was tied up in an impound lot and continued to charge the driver the daily rental fee, to the tune of $18,000. Ouch!

From the "we can't make this stuff up" category, the Ontario Provincial Police charged four tow truck drivers with street racing on the 401 highway, also citing them for driving on the shoulder, passing dangerously, and making unsafe lane changes. All drivers had their vehicles impounded for 14 days, as well as seven-day licence suspensions. We just want to know — who towed the tow trucks to the impound lot?

Down the road

Back to school and back to work; chances are you're back on the roads more regularly this fall. Time to fine-tune that fine print and review your coverage options for fall. One option to consider? Third-party liability insurance offers coverage to anyone involved in a collision that's deemed your fault, including pedestrians and cyclists. We never want to think about the worst-case scenario, but this policy add-on offers peace of mind as we return to busier roads.

Learn more about the basics of auto insurance to better understand your policy on the Safe + Sound Magazine.

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