Cities Journal

Will The Consumer Drone Safety Act Make California Cities Safer?


Consumer drones are becoming more and more popular with each day and California is basically a trailblazer in this field. More drones are sold in California than in any other state in the country. Unfortunately, this has also resulted in California reporting the largest number of incidents involving civilian drones. More precisely, one fifth of all such reports come from the Sunshine State.

There are two main types of civilian drone incidents – those involving drones that are flying too close to airports and those involving drones that prevent emergency services, primarily firefighters, from doing their jobs.

Perhaps the most (in)famous incident happened on July 17 when a particularly serious wildfire jumped the 15 Freeway, igniting a number of vehicles on the road and destroying 20 of them. During the incident, firefighting aircrafts could not approach the fire and do their job because of civilian drones flying in the area. There have been a number of cases like this only last year.

The Safety Drone Act, introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, is intended to put an end to this and make California cities and residents safer. This bill would target people who fly drones within 2 miles from an airport or the perimeter of a firefighter operation. If identified, the operators would be charged with a misdemeanor.

Perhaps more importantly, this act will, hopefully, raise awareness of the dangers of flying civilian drones near airports and firefighting operations, lowering the number of incidents that occur in California.

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