Belleville drone vs. vehicle crash 'probably won't be the last': police

Police in Belleville, Ont., are warning drivers that drones could become a growing hazard on the road, after one of the airborne devices crashed into the grille of a moving vehicle on Monday morning, causing $1,000 in damage to it.

No charges laid, as police express puzzlement over what might apply

As drones become more popular and affordable, Canada and other jurisdictions are working on developing stricter regulations to fill legal gaps surrounding safety and privacy. (Associated Press)

Police in Belleville, Ont., are warning drivers that drones could become a growing hazard on the road after one of the airborne devices crashed into the grille of a moving vehicle on Monday morning, causing $1,000 in damage to it.

Sgt. Kosta Brindakis told CBC News the privately owned drone crashed head-on into a westbound vehicle on Old Madoc Road around 10:30 a.m. No one was injured.

"It's the first [drone vs. vehicle crash] I've heard of — and it probably won't be the last," Brindakis said.

"It's not a specific big problem right now, but there's all kinds of scenarios that could come up."

Police found the owner of the drone, but do not plan to lay any charges, in part because the scenario is so novel, Brindakis said.

"Quite honestly, we're not sure what may apply," he said.

Police ruled out a charge under the Highway Traffic Act, and decided a criminal mischief charge did not apply in this case because the crash was not intentional, Brindakis said.

"From my understanding, it was an accident — that's why no charges were laid," he said, adding that the owner of the drone could face civil action.

More regulations coming

As drones become more popular and affordable, Canada and other jurisdictions are working on developing stricter regulations to fill legal gaps surrounding safety and privacy.

"The whole drone issue opens up a whole slew of various scenarios," Brindakis said. "I think, in the future, you'll see more issues arising with drones, for sure." 

With CFB Trenton on the border of Belleville, Brindakis said, residents have to be especially careful about avoiding the flight paths of military planes.

Transport Canada, which regulates recreational drone use, recommends flying drones at least nine kilometres away from airports, no higher than 90 metres above the ground and at least 150 metres away from people, buildings and vehicles.

Users must apply for a special certificate to fly drones that weigh more than 35 kilograms.

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