Without Federal Laws, Local Governments Step in to Regulate Drones

Each week, media sources and headlines are featuring more stories involving drones, including stories involving drone accidents that cause injuries. In fact, at the end of last month, several major news sources featured a story on a woman who was knocked out by a drone at the Seattle Pride Parade. The 25-year-old woman also suffered a concussion.

With drone accidents and incidents becoming more widely covered, officials and citizens are raising questions about how to protect public safety. The answer, for many: regulate them locally.

A Lack of Federal Regulation

The Federal Aviation Administration has the say on any “vehicle” that takes to the sky, but the agency has been slow to regulate drones, or as they call them - UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems). In fact, the FAA’s most recent attempt at regulating drones (a task that it has been working on since 2011) is still waiting for Congressional approval. However, local governments are filling in the regulations void by establishing their own rules concerning drone usage.

There are currently no federal laws preventing local government from regulating drones, and many beloieve local governments are the best entities to regulate drones because their public safety departments (police, fire, and emergency medical personnel) are the first responders to drone mishaps. It only makes sense that cities and towns be allowed to regulate the airspace that is closest to their residents, which the FAA considers anything less than 400 feet.

How could it ever be efficient to have the FAA (a huge bureaucratic agency in Washington, D.C.) be responsible for monitoring and policing drones that fly 30 feet from the ground here in Minnesota? Cities are the boots-on-the-ground in this issue and we should make sure that they have the authority to keep their residents safe from drone accidents.

Have questions about drone accidents or drone litigation?
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