How Dangerous are Hoverboards Compared to Segways?

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The 2015 Christmas season saw the meteoric rise of the Hoverboard and with it the increased risk of injuries and fires from the popular toy.  Many people have known about the larger Segway for years either from riding one themselves or because they have witnessed others riding them around their city.  However, the Segway never experienced the same boom as the Hoverboard experienced partially due to its prohibitive cost.  Hoverboards seemed to be the answer to many of the problems that faced Segway.  They were smaller, inexpensive, and came in various stylish colors. Once reports started streaming in about the dangers posed by Hoverboards people began to ask if the Segway posed any of the same problems?  Is one safer than the other? Does the Segway pose the same risks as the Hoverboard?

CPSC and Retailers Take Actions Against Hoverboard for Fire and Fall Risk

Most people know that the name Hoverboard is a misnomer and that these popular toys don’t actually hover, but rather roll along on two wheels.  Despite their enormous popularity, these boards have quickly gained a reputation for being notoriously dangerous.  Many people have fallen while trying to operate the self-balancing boards. Even more concerning, are the reports documenting the board’s unfortunate likelihood to catch fire or explode.  The product’s design has caused the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to release several statements urging people to be cautious when using the product.  CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye went so far as to encourage consumers to take advantage of Amazon’s Hoverboard return policy.

Additionally, the CPSC has become increasingly concerned about the fall risk posed by Hoverboards because, “the current designs of these products might not take fully into consideration the different weights of different users, potentially leading to the units speeding up or lurching in a manner that a user would not have reason to anticipate.” According to CPSC, this propensity has resulted in increasing numbers of head and brain injury reports.

CPSC Issues Warnings Against Hoverboards & Lists Boards Under Active Investigation

CPSC states that Hoverboard safety is a “priority investigation.” It also states that the following boards are under active investigation for fire and other safety risks:

  • E-Rover-Mini Smart Balance Scooter/LeCam Technology
  • DEYA LED/E-Rover Smart Balance Wheel /Shenzhen yuan jia jie Technology Co. Ltd
  • Hover-way Hands-Free Electric/Digital Gadgets LLC
    •  iMOTO/Keenford Limited
    • Smart Balance Board/I Lean Hoverboards
    • Smart Balance Wheel/One Stop Electronic Inc.
    • Smart Balance Wheel Scooter/Glide Boards
    • Smart Balance Wheels/Kateeskitty
    • Smart Balance Wheel/Luxiyan and
    • Swagway Hands-Free Smart Board/Swagway LLC
    • YOOLIKED
    • Uwheels

However, the agency does state that appearance on this list does not indicate any determination regarding the board’s safety.

Furthermore, CPSC warns that since Underwriters Laboratories (UL) only recently announced that it would begin accepting Hoverboards for testing, products currently featuring the UL symbol may be counterfeit. In the event that the product is not counterfeit, CPSC warned that the certification would only apply to certain component parts and not the unit as a whole.

CPSC also warns that while UL and ASTM International will soon begin work on safety standards, no standards currently exist for products of this type.  The agency urges those who will use Hoverboards despite the potential risks to always wear safety gear when using a Hoverboard.  Furthermore, users should keep a fire extinguisher on hand should the lithium ion battery catch fire.  Furthermore, the product should only be charged while attended and should be placed away from any flammable materials while charging.

Are Segways Safe the Safer Alternative to Hoverboards?

In 2001, the public was introduced to the Segway a battery-powered, gyroscope-stabilized Personal Transporter, which promised to speed riders along in an upright position at speeds up to 12.5 miles per hour.  While the Segway has been around far longer than the Hoverboard, it never has generated the same amount of media attention. However, that is not to say that the Segway is necessarily safer for riders.

Segway Recalls and Injuries

The CPSC reported in September 2015, that Segway issued a recall alert for Off-Board chargers due to a shock hazard.  Segway noted that a wire inside the charger could detach and touch the side of the charger, which posed a shock hazard.  Prior to this recall, the last recall that the CPSC has on file for Segway is from 2003, which was also a voluntary recall from Segway to upgrade software on the Segway.  Despite these recalls, Segway has not undergone the same scrutiny that Hoverboards have.  However, this is not to suggest that Segways don’t pose their own injury risks.

The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) recorded a meager 33 injuries between the years of 2009 to 2013; however, this number is likely due to under-reporting.  Injuries from Segway accidents can be just as severe as Hoverboard injuries even resulting in death. In a bizarre twist, the company’s owner James Heselden died in a Segway-related accident in 2010.   Amongst the 33-recorded injuries, some of the most serious include head and brain injuries, broken bones, and sprains.

Injured by a Hoverboard Fire or Fall? Call Arkansas Personal Injury Lawyer Ken Kieklak

If you’ve been injured by a defective product like a Hoverboard or Segway that is not properly calibrated to account for a rider’s weight or one that catches on fire, you have options. Product liability laws in Arkansas and throughout the United States allow consumers to hold manufacturers accountable for the injuries and damages they cause. Contact the personal injury lawyers of Gunn, Mason, Kieklak, & Dennis, LLP by calling (479) 251-7767 today to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation.

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