It's estimated that approximately 1,000,000 recreational unmanned aerial vehicles were found under Christmas trees across North America in December. But before your new drone lifts off, the Ontario Provincial Police want you to be aware of the rules.
The OPP in northeastern Ontario have launched an information blitz to help people learn how to safely operate the remote-controlled devices, while also respecting the privacy of others.
For instance, police are urging people to avoid flying them in populated areas or near moving vehicles.
They're also warning people to make sure drones don't accidentally fly into airspace where they shouldn't be, said Sgt. Carolle Dionne.
"They might be using a piece of land where it's known where planes are to take off and land, and a drone may interfere with that," said Dionne.
Using the drones improperly comes with a hefty price tag of fines of up to $25,000, although police in Sudbury said they have not received any complaints about drones.
"As long as you're within line of sight, these things will do anything that you want." - Jackson Picard
Since the devices don't come with information about regulations, retailers are expected to educate buyers.
"I mean, you want to be as safe as possible, right?" said Jackson Picard, who sells between two to five drones each week at Henry's Camera Store in Sudbury.
"You have a wicked amount of air being flown off those propellers. If you get the carbon fibre ones, they can really do some damage. So you want to make sure you're away from people, animals, all that stuff," said Picard.
Most customers buy unmanned aerial vehicles for property surveillance or real estate photography, he said, adding that he has even bought one for himself.
"As long as you're within line of sight, these things will do anything that you want," he said.
Transport Canada is preparing new regulations for drones, and in an email to CBC News, the federal ministry stated it "expects all new operators to learn how to fly their UAV safely and legally."
The OPP has prepared this simple list of safety rules:
- Fly during daylight and in good weather (not in clouds or fog).
- Keep your UAV in sight, where you can see it with your own eyes.
- Make sure your UAV is safe for flights before take-off.
- Know if you need permission to fly and when to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate.
Respect the privacy of others and avoid flying over private property or taking photos or videos without permission.
Do not fly:
- Closer than nine kilometres from any airport, heliport or aerodrome.
- Higher than 90 metres.
- Closer than 150 metres from people, animals, buildings, structures or vehicles.
- In populated areas or near large groups of people such as beaches, sporting events, outdoor concerts, festivals or firework shows.
- Near moving vehicles - avoid highways, bridges, busy streets or anywhere you could endanger or distract drivers.
- Within restricted airspace, including near or over military bases, prisons and forest fires.
- Anywhere you may interfere with first responders.
- Carry dangerous goods or lasers.
Current safety rules and guidelines can be found on Transport Canada's website or
Transport Canada has these hints on flying drones safely