Every once in a while, I read something that takes me by surprise and causes me to have an “Aha!” moment! Such was the case in a recent Insurance Journal article I thought you’d find entertaining and may give you an “Aha!” of your own. New Jersey has become the first state in the country to propose a new regulation on drone operation. Specifically, the proposed bill makes it illegal to operate a drone while intoxicated or high!
Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, the sponsor of the bill, believes prohibiting inebriated drone operation could prevent dangerous situations such as near collisions with aircraft and interference with fire-control operations. The bill also establishes penalties for using a drone to hunt or endanger people and property, as well as interfering with correctional institutions and emergency personnel. The blood alcohol level of 0.08 makes you too drunk to fly a drone.
Part of the inspiration for Quijano’s proposed bill was an event in 2015. An intoxicated National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency employee accidentally flew a two foot by two foot DGI Phantom drone onto the White House grounds without the Secret Service spotting it. I’m sure the NGIA employee had a fascinating conversation with the Secret Service.
There haven’t been a huge number of number of drone accidents in spite of the exponential growth in the number of drones each year. Yet, as the number of drones mushrooms, so does the likelihood of a dangerous accident occurring. I expect similar legislation to become more commonplace across most states.
Interestingly, no insurance companies commented on the story. I believe coverage for crashing a drone onto your neighbor’s property could potentially fall under personal liability section of your home, condo, or renter’s insurance policy. Or there may be an optional liability coverage which specifically addresses drone operation. It will be fascinating to see what happens with future legislation and insurance coverage. What do you think? Share your comments, suggestions, and experiences with me on my Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!