California State Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-District 43, has announced what he calls a comprehensive solution to the challenges that drones pose: The Drone Registration/Omnibus Negligence-prevention Enactment (DRONE) Act of 2016.
“If cars have license plates and insurance, drones should have the equivalent so they can be properly identified and owners can be held financially responsible whenever injuries, interference or property damage occurs,” says Gatto.
Specifically, according to the assemblyman, the act would do the following:
- In addition to requiring registration, the act would mandate tiny physical or electronic license plates for drones. This would hold drone owners responsible for reckless operations: e.g., interfering with firefighting efforts.
- Require inexpensive ($1 or so) insurance policies sold at the point of sale – similar to how California redemption value is collected for bottles and cans. This will ensure that if a drone hurts someone or damages property, the victim can be compensated and is akin to the auto-insurance requirements under existing law.
- Mandate that drones of a certain size with GPS capability feature automatic shut-off technology that would activate if the drone is approaching an airport. This technology already exists and is critical to protecting commercial passenger flights.
- Implement various other provisions designed to enhance responsibility and mitigate risk.
“One could imagine the auto industry balking at the idea of registration requirements at the turn of the century, but the industry survived,” Gatto continues. “As technology evolves, so must our laws in order to protect our citizenry. This is a sensible measure that will increase public safety and encourage responsible use of drones in California.”
Gatto is chairman of the Utilities & Commerce Committee, as well as the longest-serving current member of the State Assembly.