Story by Brianna Willis, Staff writer
In September 2015, CNN iReport published a story titled “Hoverboards are the Hot New Trend of 2015.” In the months following, many celebrities such as Justin Bieber, who is credited as the initiator of the trend, Wiz Khalifa, Jamie Foxx and others were photographed riding on these new inventions. Many even made note of hoverboards becoming a reality in the year 2015 as seen in “Back to the Future II,” despite not exactly being what the movie envisioned.
Hoverboards, as they are commonly referred to, do not actually hover. The technical term is “self-balancing electric scooter.” They have a technology similar to segways, but these scooters have no handle attached and rely on the balance of the user.
What started as a trend of technological advancements has now turned into one of safety concern. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, released a statement regarding safety concerns about fire incidents.
Chairman Elliot Kaye of the CPSC released an official statement that expressed his concern about the lack of safety standards placed on hoverboards.
“Retailers should always be asking their suppliers if there is an applicable safety standard in place before agreeing to sell those products,” Kaye said. “The absence of any standard should cause retailers to require extra proof of sound design, manufacturing and quality control processes.”
This statement came after several reports to the CPSC, as well as cases across the country of hoverboards catching fire. Kaye wrote that while the fire hazards of the hoverboards have received national attention, there are serious hazards to the body as well. He said they have contracts with hospitals that give them real time data on incidents and have received reports of bodily injuries sustained from hoverboard accidents.
“Some of these injuries have been serious,” he said, “including concussions, fractures, contusions or abrasions and internal organ injuries.”
While people continued to buy hoverboards over the holiday season, many universities have released bans on them. College USA TODAY released a list of universities with total and partial bans on hoverboards Jan. 9.
In total, more than 30 universities nationwide have issued a total or partial ban on hoverboards. The list of partial bans includes the University of Arkansas, Louisiana State and others. The list of total bans included American University, Boston College, University of Evansville, University of Kentucky and as of Jan. 17, Murray State.
In a statement sent to the university community, Murray State announced their ban on hoverboards. The ban is effective immediately, but is temporary, the email stated. The ban prohibits use, possession, storage and charging of hoverboards in any campus building at the Murray State campus and regional campus locations.
To put this all in perspective, the United Kingdom’s National Trading Standards reports over 500,000 hoverboards bought throughout December, and nearly 15,000 have been seized due to violations in fire safety codes.
According to the email, “The ban will remain in effect until more information and better safety standards exist for all models of the equipment.”