First they were banned from streets and foot paths. And now, as a result of a Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) mandate, self-balancing boards, or "hoverboards," have been categorically banned and one of their top producers has told consumers to stop riding them.
Robert Howell, acting director of the CPSC's Office of Compliance and Field Operations, has asked manufacturers and vendors of self-balancing boards to ensure their products meet the regulatory agency's safety standards. Of those sold in the U.S., virtually none of them meet the agency's requirements.
"Should the staff encounter such products at import, we may seek detention and/or seizure," writes Howell in a letter to manufacturers, importers and retailers of the boards. "In addition, if we counter such products domestically, we may seek a recall of these products."
The hoverboards, a fire hazard, have been blamed for more than $2 million in property damage in just a month an a half – that included the destruction of two homes and an automobile. In mid-December last year, Amazon quietly removed Swagway boards from its site after reports of catching fire. And in that same stretch, from Dec. 1 to Feb. 17, the CPSC has fielded at least 52 reports of hoverboard fires in 24 states, according to Howell.
"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," Howell states.
At the core of the hoverboards' woes are their lithium ion hearts. Hoverboard manufacturers have been urged to have their batteries approved by the Underwriters Laboratories and the builds of their boards certified by guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the United Nations.
Swagway is apparently on board with have its consumers stay off their boards until it has found a way to comply with the guidelines. As soon as the company understands what it needs to do to bring its boards into compliance, it may issue a recall and "will offer a remedy" for its customers, a Swagway spokesperson says.
In the interim, it's best to stay off of self-balancing boards.