This past winter a craze ensued over the popular “hoverboard” scooter product. Kids wanted them, teens rode them, and adults sneered at them. The electric, self-balancing scooters caught on with consumers after the founding company, Hovertrax, began a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 which led to the culmination of the product reaching the masses.
While the transport device allows riders to get around quickly and efficiently, many cities across the country are banning the product.
The scooters have been deemed dangerous by many since the two-wheeled transport allows riders to zoom past fellow pedestrians at speeds not conducive to safety. In New York, police have prohibited the riding of the scooters since they are considered to be motorized vehicles that are not able to be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles. If a hoverboard rider is caught, they could face fines in excess of $200. However, while pedestrian safety is usually cause enough for a ban, other reasons exist as to why people will be seeing less of the hoverboard product in their area.
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has imposed a ban on people riding, and even carrying, hoverboards on every transportation method within New York. This means that hoverboards are not allowed in buses, subways and even subway stations. The main purpose behind the ban is preserving the safety of hoverboard riders and everyone they come into contact with. The hoverboard is powered by lithium-ion batteries which have been known to unexpectedly catch fire. The problem has become so rampant that online superstore Amazon.com even went as far as offering full refunds to consumers who purchased the product through their online store.
The U.S. Postal Service has also joined the MTA and others by placing a form of a ban on hoverboards as they no longer allow the shipping of the products via the air and will instead only distribute by way of ground transportation. If banning the use and method of shipment was not enough, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently deemed hoverboards to officially be a safety hazard.
Where there is fire, there will be injuries. The (CPSC) conducted an investigation and found that no hoverboard on the market, no matter the manufacturer, can be deemed as being safe to ride or own. The determination means that manufacturers are now liable and officially obligated to comply with the safety standards issued by Underwriters Laboratories, a testing firm that most U.S. manufacturers look to for safety protocols. Therefore, unless a hoverboard meets the Underwriters Laboratories’ safety standards, it is to be viewed as a safety hazard and should not be used by any person or sold by any company.
While the hoverboard crazed burned bright, it looks like the light has dimmed quickly and consumers are better off staying as far away from the flame catching scooters as possible.