By: Kara Haselton
Hoverboards are the new big fad: the Heely’s of 2016. They were the top toy bought as Christmas gifts in the year of 2015, but the sad thing is the name of these “hoverboards” is a lie; they don’t actually hover but ride using two big wheels on the side. Kids are infatuated with this battery powered mode of transportation. It moves by shifting one’s weight forwards or backwards, leading to an abundance of Vines showing people falling on their face. Although these videos are hilarious, there are many places all over the world that have actually banned these hoverboards because of how dangerous they are. Hoverboards have been banned in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, New York City, Los Angeles, Disney theme parks, and all airlines. Even universities have joined the ban trend–such as Duke, East Carolina, App State, and Chapel Hill.
But why are hoverboards being banned? A notable accident in the UK occurred when a 15-year-old boy collided with a bus while riding a hoverboard and died as a result. There have also been many instances where hoverboards have burst into flames, sometimes while being charged, but other times while being ridden, due to their lithium ion batteries. As a result, they have damaged and burned down homes and injured riders. Lithium ion batteries themselves are not flammable, for they can be found in many everyday products such as smartphones and laptops. The problem is, however, that many different companies are producing their own versions of hoverboards, resulting in some having inferior quality.
The knock-offs that people are more prone to buy because of the cheaper prices also contain a lower quality battery, making them more likely to combust. Interestingly enough, no one really knows where hoverboards came from, making the product even more controversial. In addition, there has not been an official regulation made on them. Toy safety officials can’t regulate hoverboards because they are not technically a toy. Thus, safety officials have yet to decide how to label this captivating tech in order to warrant regulation.
While hoverboards grow in popularity, different companies will exploit this beloved product and profit off of selling various brands. Although they seem fun and harmless, hoverboards could do a lot of damage if the manufacturer or buyer is not careful. The question of whether high schools should allow hoverboards on their campus is up in the air. Should hoverboards be considered a mode of transportation for high school students? Heritage administrator, Ms. Daniels, commented that she thinks this new trend is dangerous and stated, “If hoverboards are seen on campus, they will be confiscated.” Buyers should take into consideration the facts and controversies about any new type of technology, and hoverboards should be no exception.