Hoverboards Declared ‘Unsafe’ By U.S. Government – Are All Self-Balancing Electric Scooters Banned?

Hoverboards have been declared unsafe by the U.S. government. But while the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has deemed the self-balancing electric scooters as an unsafe product, you could still own one.

After receiving numerous reports of fires and damages running into millions, including destruction of entire homes and automobiles, the CPSC has put makers, importers, and retailers of hoverboards on notice. The investigation into the safety risk posed by the hoverboards is serious enough to have them declared unsafe. The CPSC conducted a detailed investigation into the hazards posed by the must-have Christmas gift and thereafter sent a notice to retailers on Thursday “with new hoverboard safety standards that, if not followed, could result in enforcement actions, including seizure of the devices as well as civil and criminal penalties,” reported Mashable.

Through an official letter, the CPSC intimated all those who deal in hoverboards:

“The CPSC considers self-balancing scooters that do not meet the safety standards referenced above to be defective, and that they may present a substantial product hazard. Consumers risk serious injury or death if their self-balancing scooters ignite and burn….Should the staff encounter such products at import, we may seek detention and/or seizure. In addition, if we encounter such products domestically, we may seek a recall of these products.”

Does this mean all hoverboards currently in the United States are unsafe? Though being declared unsafe may be an ominous sign for the self-balancing electric scooters and may significantly affect sales, the declaration is by no means all-encompassing.

From its perspective, CPSC wants makers and sellers to adhere to safety standards and requirements set forth in an Underwriters Laboratories investigation, reported Geek Wire.

“[The CPSC] will consider hoverboards that do not meet these standards to be defective and that that they may present a substantial product hazard. If [CPSC] staff encounters such products at import, we may seek detention and/or seizure. In addition if we encounter such products domestically, we may seek a recall of these products.”

Incidentally, during the investigation, CPSC did attempt to induce ignition within the test samples. However, the agency failed to “replicate an open flame.” Regardless, CPSC chairman Elliot F. Kaye has a cautionary note to those who sell the hoverboards,

“From our perspective, a smart retailer will put in place a stop sale to find out if their inventory complies with the UL standard. If they are certain that it doesn’t, they should then issue a recall proposal.”

Interestingly, Kaye noted that safety issues plagued all hoverboards, irrespective of the make, model, or price. There have been multiple cases involving such scooters, and numerous videos posted on social media sites indicate the major culprit is the poor or cheap electrical circuitry.

Earlier investigations pointed out that the Chinese manufacturers would cut corners and skimp out on safety components that cut off supply when the battery is fully charged. Lack of such components heated the battery within the hoverboards, resulting in fire or small explosions. In the last three months alone, there were a reported 52 hoverboard fires that resulted in over $2 million in property damage, reported Fortune.

Being declared unsafe essentially means the hoverboard manufacturers will now have to mandatorily secure safety certification from independent certification authority UL. Following the declaration, many companies are expected to quietly shut shop in the United States and get their products certified, before re-emerging.

While hoverboards have posed a safety and fire risk, they have been an insanely popular toy for children and adults alike. Inspired from Back To The Future movies, the hoverboards captured the attention of everyone, but owing to dodgy manufacturing practices they have proven to be a huge liability.

[Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]