Feds Issue Warning to Hoverboard Manufacturers, Distributors

Reports of hoverboard injuries and fires continue to amass. New York and Boston have banned the devices from subways, buses, trains and stations. They are also banned on airlines.

Recently, two children in Nashville almost died and their home burned to the ground in January after the self-balancing scooter caught fire.  They had been trapped in the house, but were ultimately rescued. A 12-year-old in New York suffered severe smoke inhalation and his house was destroyed after the $400 device burst into flames while he was in bed. In Massachusetts, a child was riding a hoverboard in the living room when the device suddenly started smoking and burst into flames.

Now, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a stern warning to manufacturers and distributors of the device, and a number of retailers have halted sales as a result. 

The CPSC warning, issued February 18th, was issued by Acting Director Robert J. Howell, who indicated these devices pose an unreasonable risk of injury and death to consumers. He warned importers, manufactures, distributors and sellers in the U.S. to comply with the currently-applicable voluntary safety standards, as noted in UL-2272. In addition, all lithium ion batteries in the devices have to comply with testing requirements, as noted in the UN DOT 38.3, as these devices are prone to rupture, short circuit and other dangers.

Federal regulators said self-balancing scooters (i.e., hoverboards) that don’t meet this criteria are unreasonable dangerous and pose unnecessary risks of fire, with customers in peril of injury or death when the scooters ignite and burn. That’s in addition to the reported fall hazards.

The agency noted that just between Dec. 1, 2015 and Feb. 17, 2016, it had received 52 reports from customers in 24 states asserting fires caused by self-balancing scooters. That resulted in more than $2 million in property damage. The hoverboards involved in these incidents, the agency said, did not meet these voluntary standards.

In fact, no hoverboard currently on the market meets those standards.

In response to this warning, a number of big-name retailers simply stopped selling them. Just days after the CPSC announcement, Amazon.com pulled all hoverboards from his website. There are still a few accessories and wheels available for sale, but an ad for the Razer Hovertrax takes users to an empty page on the site. The company declined to discuss the move, but it was followed soon thereafter by Target and Toys “R” Us.

This is a significant about-face from just a few months ago, when companies couldn’t keep the items in stock fast enough. But of course, this was part of the problem. This was a wildly popular gift item for Christmas 2015, but manufacturers met the enormous demand by cutting corners. That resulted in production of an unsafe product.

Fort Lauderdale hoverboard injury lawyers have seen this type of action from many different kinds of manufactures – whether it’s a maker of pharmaceuticals or motor vehicles or children’s toys. Manufacturers and distributors owe a duty of care to consumers to make sure their products aren’t unreasonable safe for use as intended, and that all known hazards are clearly stated upfront, so the public can make informed decisions.

Although there has not been a formal hoverboard recall, at least one manufacturer, Swagway, has urged customers to stop using its devices.

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