Drone Legislation Would Require Owners To Buy Insurance, Get UAV ‘License Plates’

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Southern California lawmaker is pushing legislation to require drone owners to purchase insurance policies for their vehicle.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto this week introduced the Drone Registration/Omnibus Negligence-prevention Enactment (DRONE) Act of 2016, which would hold owners responsible for registering and obtaining physical or electronic “license plates” for drones.

“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,” Gatto said.

The bill would also require “inexpensive” insurance policies to be bought at the point of sale – which, according to Gatto, would be about a dollar “or so” – similar to how the California Redemption Value (CRV) tax is collected with the purchase of bottles and cans.

Under the DRONE Act, all drones would be required to be equipped with GPS capability and automatic shut-off technology that would activate upon any drone’s approach to an airport – a technology that Gatto says already exists and is “critical to protecting commercial passenger flights.”

Gatto, who serves as the chairman of the Assembly’s Utilities & Commerce Committee, said several incidents in 2015 involving drones have demonstrated that lawmakers must prepare for “the reality that hundreds of thousands of plastic and metal vehicles will be overhead in the years to come.”

“One could imagine the auto industry balking at the idea of registration requirements at the turn-of-the-century, but the industry survived,” explained Gatto. “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 represents the 43rd District, which includes the cities of Los Angeles, Glendale and Burbank.

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