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This Week at NCDOT: New Drone Laws and Tree of Life Ceremony

RALEIGH – The following are highlights from this week at the N.C. Department of Transportation. The stories below are also featured in NCDOT Now, the department’s weekly newscast.

New Drone Laws

As drones, also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems, become more common, North Carolina’s laws are changing to stay up-to-date while still ensuring both safety and fun for those who use them. Two new laws that were passed in July are now in effect.

First, the use of drones near prisons, jails and other correctional facilities is now prohibited. This means pilots must not fly within 500 feet horizontally or 250 feet vertically of these facilities.

Second, restrictions have been lifted on the use of special imaging technology, such as thermal and infrared, with drones for emergency responders. This will allow them to be more effective in search and rescues and other emergency situations. It also clarifies that model aircraft must also follow state drone laws, except for permitting.

“We hope these new laws will help drone users continue to operate safely and have a good time flying,” said James Pearce, Division of Aviation communications officer. “We’re also hopeful these will help emergency responders to use drones more effectively in their efforts.”

To learn more about these new laws or drone guidelines, visit the Division of Aviation’s website at

Tree of Life Ceremony

Last year, 1,442 people died as a result of vehicle crashes on North Carolina roads. The Tree of Life is dedicated annually to those victims.

This year marked the 20th annual tree lighting and candlelight vigil that was held at the North Carolina State Capitol. Speakers reminded drivers to buckle up, in every seat, every time and not drive impaired.

Helmet Initiative Deadline

On another safety note, don’t forget that applications for the annual bicycle helmet initiative, which provides helmets to low-income children, are due at 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 11.

Winter Weather Preparedness

And lastly, it’s winter weather preparedness week. With the chance of some wintry precipitation in the forecast, now is the time to make sure you and your family are ready for winter storms.

For information on how to prepare, visit


8/21/2018 4:02 PM