UVM Bans Hoverboards

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Self-balancing two-wheeled boards, or “hoverboards,” will no longer be allowed in UVM residence halls, according to an email sent out by ResLife on Jan. 11.

 

The ban was discussed over winter break and finalized in early January when faculty returned to school, University Fire Marshal John Marcus said.

 

“We started to see a lot of reports of fires caused by hoverboards,” Marcus said.

 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission launched an investigation to determine the safety risks of the boards Dec. 16, Marcus said.

 

U.S. CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye released a statement on the organization’s investigation into the product Jan. 20.

 

“Beyond the fire hazards, based on the increasing number of serious injuries and emergency room visits associated with these products, we are also expanding our investigation of the falls associated with hoverboards,” Kaye stated.

 

It is easy to dismiss the danger of falling off the hoverboard as user error or inexperience, he stated. However, it may be a fault of the product’s design that causes users to fall off.

 

“We are looking deeper into the design of these products to see if they present a hidden hazard that is leading to fall injuries that should not occur, even on a product that presents some risk of falling,” Kaye stated.

 

Over 70 people have been treated in emergency rooms in the U.S. for hoverboard-related injuries, Marcus said.

 

Major retailers have already stopped selling the products, and most airlines and some colleges throughout the country have enacted hoverboard bans, Marcus said.

UVM officials looked to these examples when making their decision, he said.

 

At this point, Marcus said, the ban is not campuswide and will only be enforced in the residence halls.

 

“A lot of the incidents are taking place while they’re charging, so that’s what we’re concerned about,” he said. “That’s where people will be charging them, and that’s where the big population density is.”

 

Hoverboards will fall into the same category as hazardous products already banned from residence halls, such as charcoal grills and fireworks, Marcus said.

 

It would be up to residence hall staff to deal with any violations, he said.

 

The University will evaluate the need for a campuswide ban if administrators feel it is necessary, he said.

 

Students have mixed opinions over the new hoverboard ban.

 

“I guess this is kind of related to safety versus personal freedoms,” senior Sandy Halbing said. “I support the ban though, if it is a serious safety hazard.”

 

“I think with the current advancement in the charging capabilities of the hover boards, they are no longer dangerous,” sophomore and Redstone Campus resident Nick Tepper said. “The media blew the fire hazard out of proportion, and as such, large universities like UVM probably overreacted.”