Senator Barbara Boxer has introduced a bill to make the reckless operation of a drone a federal offense. The Safe Drone Act would make it a misdemeanor offense, punishable by fine or up to one year in prison, to knowingly operate a drone within 2 miles of an airport or the outermost perimeter of a wildfire.
“Our firefighters and airplane pilots should be focused on keeping the public safe – not worrying about unauthorized drones that recklessly interfere with their jobs,” Senator Boxer said.
Boxer’s announcement states her impetus in introducing the bill to be recent conflict between drones and firefighters:
The bill follows a series of recent incidents where reckless drone operators have forced firefighting agencies to suspend all air operations out of concern for the safety of the pilots and people on the ground. Nationwide, the U.S. Forest Service has identified 13 different instances this year where drones interfered with firefighting efforts, up from only four the previous year. This year in California, there have been five cases where drones have hindered firefighting efforts.
The Safe Drone Act coordinates with the legislation proposed by U.S. Rep. John Garamendi of California in the House last August.
“Private drones impede emergency air response in situations where seconds matter. The regulations are not keeping pace with the technology, and it is putting lives, property, and habitats at risk,” Congressman Garamendi said.
Drones have been a hot topic for California lawmakers lately. Governor Jerry Brown vetoed three proposed laws criminalizing the operation of drones over schools, prisons, and wildfires earlier this month; and passed legislation prohibiting so called “paparazzi drones” from taking pictures or videos over private property.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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