GoPro issued a recall for its new camera drones last week, after videos showing the drones losing power mid-flight and plunging hundreds of feet to the ground began surfacing online, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. No one was hurt in any of these incidents, but the threat of free falling drones leads a person to wonder: What other dangers do recreational drones pose?
It turns out that recreational drones pose quite a few threats to people, especially if they have a camera attached. Let’s review some of those threats so people are aware of the potential harm drones can cause.
Before reading on though, check out this video of a GoPro drone falling out of the sky. Note, there is some foul language towards the end of the clip.
An Electric Threat
Drones are supposed to be flown in an open area with clear sight lines, but people don’t always follow the rules. When they don’t, accidents like a drone flying into power lines can happen.
Last year, a drone flew into power lines in Los Angeles and knocked out power to nearly 700 homes, according to a report from the LA Times. While this is inconvenient for the people who lost electricity, it was downright dangerous for cars driving by, and pedestrians on the sidewalk who could have been hit by the downed power line.
A Danger to Airplanes
Drones are not supposed to fly within five miles of an airport, or above 400 feet anywhere, according to the drone regulations published by the Federal Aviation Administration. This is to ensure they do not interfere with the ten-of-thousands of flights crisscrossing the US on a given day. However, a study of drone interactions with passenger airplanes found 921 incidents involving the two, according to the Bard College Center for the Study of the Drone.
Of all the recorded incidents, 90 percent occurred above 400 feet, the maximum height they are permitted to fly. A majority of the incidents also occurred within five miles of an airport. The scariest thing the report found, though, was 158 incidents in which a drone came within 200 feet or less of a manned aircraft, and that in 28 of those, the pilots were forced to maneuver the aircraft to avoid a collision.
No Training Required
Despite there being quite a bit of responsibility involved with safely operating a drone, most recreational drone users have little or no training before they begin flying. There is no training required by law to operate a drone, and no license other than a $5 registration fee to register a drone with the FAA.
This seems unwise because of how dangerous drones can be. As we mentioned before, drones can hit power lines, knocking out power to surrounding areas and endangering people and vehicles with downed power cables. They can also injure people directly by hitting them, their vehicles — potentially causing a car accident — or their homes.
A Threat to Privacy
The military often uses drones for surveillance, but there isn’t much stopping recreational drone users from doing the same thing. Drones, like the GoPro drone, are easily equipped with high-definition cameras that capture crystal clear images from hundreds of feet away. Instead of using those cameras for capturing wide landscapes from high in the sky, people could use drones to spy on others, according to Bard’s Drone Center.
Drones are quiet and highly maneuverable, making them easy to position in a concealed vantage point of a person or their property. While shutting the blinds is an easy solution, everyday people are not constantly on the lookout for ways others can spy on them. (And, perhaps, people shouldn’t have to shut their blinds just to avoid peeping-tom drones.) This violation of privacy may not cause physical harm, but there are other ways secretly filmed footage can cause a person damage.
What Can be Done About Drone Damage?
As drones become more popular, and their commercial potential is fully realized, you will begin to see them more frequently. However, as we’ve detailed above these machines pose quite a few serious dangers to a person’s wellbeing and their privacy.
Our attorneys have experience with a wide variety of claims, and will know how to handle a variety of personal injury claims. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation to find out what our attorneys can do for you.