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The Dispatch: February 2022

This month we cover high school road safety visionaries, how our need for lux rides is killing the supply chain, and possibly the craziest transportation fail we’ve ever seen.

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by Team Onlia
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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, this month we're looking at high school road safety visionaries, how our need for lux rides is killing the supply chain, and possibly the craziest transportation fail we’ve ever seen.

Government: Decoded

Toronto's road safety staff may want to watch their jobs. Twitter lit up recently, wild over the fact that a grade 12 student in Scarborough offered a digital redesign of a dangerous intersection. While Hafeez Alavi may not have engineering chops, his skills in Windows Paint 3D have gotten the attention. The road safety advocacy group, Friends and Families for Safe Streets, tweeted that Alavi is better at Vision Zero the city's road safety framework than the Vision Zero department itself. Shade thrown.


If you've been putting off your drive test because of a parallel parking phobia, Ontario's Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has got your back. In an attempt to manage the backlog of eager new drivers, MTO is temporarily changing the G-level drive test to be shorter, omitting skills that would have previously been tested in the G2 licensing exam. On the chopping block? Road-side stops, three-point turns and parallel parking, but only until March 31st. If you're breathing a sigh of relief, remember – practicing those skills is *actually* critical for your driving ability, not just an inconvenient part of the test. 


We've talked a lot about how the federal government is making moves on their commitment to ensuring all passenger vehicles sold in Canada by 2035 are zero emissions. The government is (sustainably) greasing those wheels with investment in electric charging stations across the country and now, in their latest release, working to give Canadians the rundown on purchasing and owning your shiny new EV. While it will take years for our roads to transition from gas-guzzling to stealthy electric, moves like these pave the way for greener roads. 


Newsworthy

Trying to get your hands on a new car these days? Good luck. The shortage has plagued the world, with most pointing to semiconductor computer chip supply shortages. However, this explanation doesn't get to the true root of the issue, which experts have started to unpack. It turns out the luxurious features we've all come to love and expect are increasing the load on vehicle computer systems. The "bloat" of tech features included on new vehicles, including elements like driver assist, advanced infotainment systems, and heated steering wheels require more computer processing power than simple cars of yesteryear. Experts have remarked that today's vehicles have extensive software coding demands comparable to fighter jet technology from 10-15 years ago. So if you're waiting for a new ride, know that you're basically getting a jet.


If you do get your hands on a new vehicle, make sure you've got a great parking spot. And if it's a Kia or Hyundai, that may be outside, away from buildings. Automakers have issued a warning to nearly 500,000 owners that their new car may "spontaneously catch fire" even when not running. Blaming a defect that causes the anti-lock braking system to short circuit and combust, Hyundai and Kia have triggered a massive recall to replace the faulty control module and fuse. So far, three vehicles have gone up in smoke which is three too many, if you ask us.  


As everything shifts to e-commerce, Ford is investing in digital payment platforms, inking a deal with Stripe, the online payment processor. A five-year partnership, this move enables Ford to process payments for vehicle sales online, offer integrated financing, and create a financial ecosystem between Ford corporate and their dealer locations. The auto giant says this is the first step in more significant investments into creating a more robust technology-based company, evolving with the future in mind. Sounds like a move pulled from Uber's playbook, the technology-first transportation company. The future is here, and it's online. 

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Insurance demystified 

Ever since the mass production of self-driving cars became a reality, there have been questions about insurance and liability logistics. The autonomous nature of new vehicles shifts the decision-making process from the driver to software technology capabilities. This raises an important point, most recently played out in a rash of Tesla collisions: who is responsible for a collision? 


As usual, regulators are catching up with technology after innovation has effectively opened Pandora's box. U.K. officials have ruled that self-driving vehicle manufacturers will be held accountable for collisions rather than the drivers. The United States Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has recently announced that certain automated features, like advanced driver assistance, don't necessarily contribute to a vehicle's overall safety rating. The IIHS will now rate the safety of these features based on the impact they have on drivers' awareness and attention.

The bottom line is this: government agencies, insurers, vehicle manufacturers, and the public will all experience change to support the widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles, teasing out the intricacies of responsibility for collisions. Heralded as a safer solution for our roads, autonomous cars have a lot of potential to take the guesswork out of driving but have their own confusion to sort out first. 


Transportation fails

Gather round, as this story is a wild one. After a big night at a local bar, a Floridian man went out to find his car, despite being significantly impaired. First mistake. When he couldn't find his car, the man decided the best option was to take another vehicle instead, which the Martin County Police referred to as stealing "one in a good faith effort to locate his own." Calling a cab would undoubtedly have been the best decision before he even left the bar because from here, the story gets even more unbelievable. 


On the attempted drive home, the vehicle stalled on local train tracks, and there was a train coming. The driver jumped from the car just before the train crashed into the car, "catapulting" the vehicle into a neighbouring home what a wake-up for those residents, who thankfully weren't injured. 


The driver then "continued on to a nearby fruit stand, where he vandalized the business then tried to steal a forklift." Eventually, the man decided to flag down local officers, enlisting them to help find his car. The best option would have been to leave in a cab and come back to search in the (sober) daylight. Instead, the driver is looking at grand theft and criminal mischief charges, and expected additional charges.


Down the road

With everything opening up again (hopefully!) chances are you’ll be hitting the roads for meals and errands, meetings and pickups. Here’s our tip to those finding sweet spots on streets with parking time limits – watch out for chalk on your tires


Toronto Parking Enforcement Officer Hegedus just shared how he uses chalk to track how long a vehicle’s been parked, slapping offenders with a ticket. Till we meet again, drive safe and park smart!

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