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The Dispatch ICYMI 2021

Read our end-of-year wrap up for anything you might’ve missed in transportation, tech, safety, and insurance.

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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 Ontario's movement into transportation innovation, vehicle theft trends, and chicken wings behind the wheel.

Government decoded

Toronto is rethinking one of the latest innovations to hit the streets: the micro-delivery robot, Geoffrey. The tiny pink device has been delivering food and goods across the city, much to the delight of pedestrians. However, accessibility advocates and city councillors are questioning the use of Geoffrey and other "micro utility devices," voting to ban them from city sidewalks, keeping them a public space for safe pedestrian use.

While Toronto is pausing on innovations like Geoffrey, Ontario is betting on it. The province has released a  to drive innovative development and investment in electric, connected, and autonomous vehicles. The $56.4 million promise will fund the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network, with a chief focus on production mandates, create a domestic battery ecosystem, and profile Ontario as a leading hub in automotive innovation.

Sustainable transportation options have been a priority at all levels of government. At the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26), the federal government was on the world stage as one of 19 countries pledging to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions with  and vehicle manufacturers. One such promise from Transport Canada was to make heavy trucks and buses emission-free in less than two decades while working to eliminate emissions from cars and shipping routes. Critics are skeptical that this talk will lead to action, but hopefully, global exposure will encourage transparency.

Newsworthy

The transportation innovation industry is a top bet for the investment industry. Rivian, the electric truck and car manufacturer, made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange with an initial public offering valuation of nearly $70 billion. And this is a company that has only delivered 156 vehicles to new owners. Backed by giants like Amazon and Ford, this initial valuation is not far off from Ford's $80 billion valuation, a company that sold over four million vehicles last year. Never heard of this transportation tech company? Prior to this slamdunk I.P.O, not many people had – Rivian has been known to operate in stealth mode, with 38-year old founder, R.J. Scaringe, keeping the company as  as possible.

In Mark Zuckerberg's latest attempt to be involved in… everything, the newly coined Meta (the parent company for a group of Zuck's companies, including Facebook) will partner with Uber's operations in India. People looking for rideshare will now be able to book directly in the WhatsApp messaging service rather than downloading the Uber app. From booking to issuing a receipt, the entire transaction will happen in WhatsApp – a sign that Uber is meeting customers where they already congregate.

If you’ve always wanted a Tesla but just can’t commit to the steep price tag, you might be happy to know there’s another option to own Tesla tech. The car giant has launched a Cyberquad for Kids, an adjustable, battery-powered ATV that starts at a price point of $1900. The timing of Tesla's latest launch aligns with the holiday season, but has some Tesla critics wondering why the company is promoting new products while over three million Cybertruck orders still haven't been fulfilled, and the adult-sized Cyberquad remains to be shipped.

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Insurance demystified

As 2021 comes to an end, round-ups and wrap-ups are everywhere, including insurance. The Equité Association, an insurance fraud investigator, just released their roundup of the top 10 stolen vehicles from 2021, identifying high-end SUVs as one of the most in-demand cars. Increasingly, stolen vehicles are imported overseas, with profits funding criminal activities – more than just innocent theft for joyrides.

The potential for theft is an important consideration when you're purchasing a new car, as you may want to choose a car less likely to go missing. However, know that while insurance premiums do take theft risk into their premium calculations, it is typically based on risks related to where you live, not the car you drive.

Thieves are also getting technologically savvy, exploiting keyless entry to access cars easily. Criminals are tinkering with vehicle records, including "re-vinning;" manipulating hardcopy collision reports using falsified Vehicle Identification Numbers.

If you're considering purchasing a used car, make sure all accident reports and CarFax reports are legitimate. Comparing hard copy to online records will protect you against buying stolen property – ensuring your new ride won’t be seized in later investigations, leaving you without a vehicle.

To protect against unforeseen theft, park in secure locations and avoid leaving valuables in your vehicle. At home, keep your key fob away from the front door and windows, making it harder for thieves to hack into your vehicle's computer. Finally, check your insurance policy to understand your theft and loss protection to know what to do and how you’re covered in a worst-case scenario.

Transportation fails

Is it a fail if you're not even meant to be on the road? A commercial truck spilled concrete all over an Ontario highway. When authorities arrived on the scene, they found the truck driver didn't even have a licence to operate that type of vehicle at all. The load of concrete wasn't properly secured, putting a whole highway of drivers at risk for injury or death. Drivers beware: improper loads have been a recent target for enforcement, so whether you’re moving a mattress or maison, check that everything is secure before hitting the road.

However, just because you've a licence doesn't mean you're the perfect driver... One night north of Toronto, an impaired driver collided with another vehicle and then left the scene. Officers received a call from a concerned citizen about a driver parked in the middle of an intersection, . It turns out it was the same driver as the first collision, despite him having no recollection of hitting another vehicle – a relatively relaxed repeat offender, indeed.

Down the road

Winter is certainly here, and with that comes the snow – so make sure you stay on top of the shovelling. It helps you get in and out of your home, ensures it is a safer walkway for visitors or delivery people and makes your place look occupied, a deterrent for thieves. While you’re at it, make sure your car is protected from snow and ice, and properly de-iced before you take off.

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