ROCHESTER, N.Y. – You may have seen one and thought, ‘wow, cool!’ But self-balancing scooters (aka hoverboards) are hot. So hot that they’re catching on fire and sparking safety bans across the nation.
They’re one of the most-wanted items on Amazon this holiday season but hoverboards are grabbing headlines because they keep exploding.
This week, three major US airlines banned hoverboards on their airplanes – stating the transportation device will not be accepted as either carry-on or checked luggage. United, Delta, and American cited “poorly labeled, powerful lithium-ion batteries” were at the heart of the issue.
Rochester defective product attorneys at Cellino & Barnes say many holiday gifts could be equipped with dangerous batteries, prone to causing fires.
“Manufacturers are obligated to meet safety requirements, but there are shortcuts and many companies are using these shortcuts to sell consumers unsafe products,” Ross Cellino, a Rochester defective product attorney said. “We’ve long known about the dangers of lithium-ion batteries but companies still market these items with little or no warning.”
In the early 2000’s, Apple and Dell issued recalls after laptops overheated and burst into flames. The fires were linked to the computers’ lithium ion batteries.
Nearly all hoverboards are made at a rapid pace in China with little thought of safety.
Adding to the risks, there are no global manufacturing standards – and fewer regulations. Many hoverboard makers have stated that their lithium ion batteries have been independently certified as “safe.” However, that may not be true.
“There are standards meant to protect consumers but many times, it’s up to producers to test their own products,” Cellino said. “In the past, manufacturers have lied to consumers and ignored safety so they can make more money.”
Federal regulators target specific imported products to detain. Although the strategy has its benefits, it can expose consumers to many unsafe imports that hit shelves in America.
Some electronics like hoverboards often have self-regulated safety standards. Even if the standards are not met, stores can legally stock and sell those products. However, some are deciding to avoid a potential public relations disaster.
Overstock is stepping back from selling hoverboards due to fire concerns and the Consumer Electronics show outright banned them.
However, the product remains a hot-seller. According to Ebay, it sold a hoverboard every 12 seconds on Cyber Monday. But there are questions whether these products are even legal:
The New York Police Department claims hoverboards are technically illegal in New York City, but not due to safety concerns.
According to the NYPD, hoverboards “are considered motor vehicles that cannot be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles.”