Hoverboards are one of the hottest things to hit the market over the past year, and not just in terms of selling well. It turns out these early generation vehicles carry substantial risk, primarily related to the integrity of their parts. Analysts believe that in the run-up to the 2015 holiday season, a number of lesser known brands emerged touting hoverboards made with cheaper materials, and not surprisingly, those cheap materials have been prone to problems.
First, let’s establish what a hoverboard is, and how it works. Technically described as a “self-balancing two-wheeled platform,” a hoverboard is akin to a motorized skateboard. The primary difference is that hoverboards move widthwise, with the rider’s toes always pointed in the direction of movement.
With fascinating balancing properties and the promise of effortlessly carrying riders as their feet hover inches above the ground, it’s easy to see how hoverboards became popular. But now, because of very real safety concerns, the brakes have been slammed on our affection for these devices.
The primary safety concern with hoverboards centers on their rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are similar to batteries used in smartphones, tablets and laptops, but they’re bigger and cheaper, which makes them more prone to defects. Unfortunately, those defects don’t just manifest as a weak charge. In this case, defects have lead to fires and explosions. In the U.S., the Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating a dozen cases of hoverboard fires, across 10 states. Fires and explosions have occurred while hoverboards were charging, while they were in use, and even while unplugged and turned off.
Another cause for concern is the unorthodox demands hoverboards put on riders’ balance, coupled with surprising operational speed. Since their release, hoverboards have caused a slew of falls and other accidents. At least one traffic fatality in London involved a hoverboard, and the CPSC has logged as many as 40 emergency room visits related to hoverboard accidents in the past several months.
Due to the risk of both battery-related fires and unstable riders, many hoverboard bans have been enacted across the globe. More than 75 colleges and universities have bans in place, along with four major airlines and several resorts and theme parks. More drastically, some whole cities and countries have banned hoverboards, including: New York, Dubai, Hong Kong, Denmark and the United Kingdom.
So what if you can’t resist these fascinating new toys? At the very least, there are smart safety guidelines to follow, both in terms of how you care for a hoverboard, and how you ride a hoverboard.
For rider safety, we’ve compiled the following list of tips to get you started the right way.
While the issue with battery fires is much less predictable and avoidable, precautionary measures are fairly simple: don’t leave a charging hoverboard unattended for extended periods of time (particularly overnight), and always store hoverboards in cool, dry places. If you have concerns over damage caused by a hoverboard, contact one of our personal injury attorneys anytime.