The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has declared all hoverboards currently in the U.S. to be unsafe. That’s because none of them meet U.S. safety standards for electrical systems and lithium ion batteries. As a result, the CPSC says the hoverboard pose an unreasonable risk of consumer injury due to fires and burns. Additionally, the CPSC is investigating serious injuries associated with falls from hoverboards to determine if there may be a design defect inherent in the product.
In a letter to the manufacturers dated Feb. 8, CPSC Acting Director Office of Compliance and Field Operations Robert J. Howell said all self-balancing scooters imported, manufactured, distributed or sold in the U.S. must comply with currently applicable voluntary UL and UN/DOT safety standards. The letter read in part:
Self-balancing scooters that do not meet these voluntary safety standards pose an unreasonable risk of fire to consumers. Consumers risk serious injury or death if their self-balancing scooters ignite and burn. …We believe that many of the reported incidents, and the related unreasonable risk of injuries and deaths associated with fires in these products, would be prevented if all such products were manufactured in compliance with the referenced voluntary safety standards.
From Dec. 1, 2015, through Feb. 17, 2016, the CPSC received reports from consumers in 24 states of 52 hoverboard fires resulting in more than $2 million in property damage, including the complete destruction of two homes and one automobile.
All of the hoverboards currently sold in the U.S. are made in China. CPSC Chairman Elliott Kaye said that the CPSC isn’t aware of a safe hoverboard brand or model in the U.S. today. He said:
That’s why we want everybody to stop sale, test their units, see if they do or not, and if they do continue selling it, if they don’t, don’t sell them anymore and recall any of them that are on the market.
Noncompliant hoverboards face recall or seizure at ports. Additionally, manufacturers and distributors could be subject to civil and criminal penalties if they fail to notify regulators of product defects. In addition to fires, the CPSC has been tracking numerous reports of emergency room visits to treat serious injuries sustained in a hoverboard fall. These include broken bones and traumatic head injuries.
Chairman Kaye said that while most people chalk up these types of falls to inexperienced users, the CPSC would like to make sure there are not any defects that may make falls more likely. For example, he said, manufacturers may not have taken into account the different weights and heights of users, making the experience widely different for different people.
Sources: CPSC; Cnet and Claims Journal