Hoverboards seem to be everywhere these days. And while these futuristic rides may seem exciting, they may also be putting the public at a significant risk of injury.
That has been the main motivation behind one the latest investigations initiated by officials at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which recently announced that it would be carefully analyzing the risks associated with hoverboards over the coming months. Specifically, CPSC officials have explained that:
CPSC is looking into dozens of fires involving hoverboards, which are also called smart boards or self-balancing boards… This is a priority investigation and CPSC is devoting the staff time and resources necessary to find the root causes of the fires.
Focus of the CPSC Investigation into Hoverboard Risks
The two main concerns that safety officials have when it comes to hoverboards include the risks of:
- Fires – As of January 2016, CPSC officials have received at least 39 reports from consumers of hoverboards bursting into flames. Although the root cause of these fires is still unknown (and is the focus on the CPSC investigation), the current theories are that the lithium-ion battery packs and/or the circuit boards in hoverboards may be the source of overheating and/or combustion.
- Falls – Although the CPSC has noted that falling off of hoverboards may seem like an “obvious” risk that should be attributed to “user inexperience or error,” regulators are concerned that design and/or manufacturing issues may also be contributing the risk of falling. In particular, the concerns are that hoverboards are not necessarily designed to factor in users’ different weights. This aspect of the hoverboard investigation will, as the CPSC has noted, focus on determining whether hoverboards “present a hidden hazard that is leading to fall injuries.”
Remarking on the CPSC hoverboard investigation, CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye has explained that:
As we move forward with our investigation of the fall and fire hazards relating to hoverboards, all options remain on the table for CPSC. The federal government continues to work in close coordination on this serious issue… regularly sharing information and insights with a common goal of taking whatever steps are necessary to prevent injuries and property damage from fires and falls.
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