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The Dangers of Hoverboards: More than just a Hot Topic

One of the most popular gifts this past year was a “self-balancing scooter,” more commonly known as a hoverboard. Just like any vehicle or toy, hoverboards can be fun and entertaining, but some safety concerns have arisen, including the toy catching fire and injuries such as concussions, fractures, cuts, bruises, and internal organ damage.

The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued a statement on the use of safety equipment while hoverboarding, and advises against allowing children under the age of 16 to ride. The AAP article also cites a survey that highlights the concern for serious fractures from hoverboard falls. Of 10 health care facilities surveyed in the two weeks between Christmas and New Year’s Day 2016, 100 children sought care for broken bones after hoverboard falls, and about 20 of them required surgery. The AAP advises consumers to look for a national testing laboratory mark as a means to ensure its safety. However, it should be noted that a national laboratory mark cannot guarantee safety.

The source of the fall risk from hoverboards may not as obvious as it seems. The mechanics of the self-balancing scooters themselves, and not necessarily rider error, may be a major contributing cause of the high rate of falls. Specifically, the devices may not accurately account for the weights of different riders, and therefore, the hoverboard can lurch forward or backward unexpectedly. This may not come as a surprise when considering that self-balancing scooters support weight ranges from 45 pounds to up to 300 pounds. In addition, many hoverboards are capable of tackling steep inclines. Most of the two-wheeled transportation devices claim to climb an incline of around 30 degrees. For reference, a parking garage ramp is normally about 4 degrees and the typical max incline for pedestrians is about 7 degrees. So riders can easily climb any ramp in an urban area. But this ability may also increase the risk of falling because as the degree of incline or decline becomes larger, so too can the tilt.

Hoverboard top speeds are variable between different brands, ranging from about 6 mph up to 12 mph. Faster devices can lead to falls with more serious injuries, especially if the falls are from unexpected, sudden movements of the hoverboard coupled with a high degree of tilting.

With the potential hazards of hoverboarding, many experts recommend wearing a helmet, elbow and knee pads, and wrist guards, and avoid riding on excessive inclines and near roads.

References Chairman-Kayes-Statements/Statements/Statement-from-the- US-CPSC-Chairman-Elliot-F-Kaye-on-the-safety-of-hoverboards Chairman-Kayes-Statements/Statements/Statement-from-US- CPSC-Chairman-Elliot-F-Kaye-on-the-Safety-of-Hoverboards- and-the-Status-of-the-Investigation

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