Hoverboards are poised to be the most-sold item purchased this holiday season. Just like Heelys did in 2000, the hoverboardpiques the attention of children. But they also awaken the inner child in all adults. It goes by many names, including personal transporter, self-balancing scooters and self-balancing motorized boards. Whatever you choose to call a hoverboard, states are struggling to create hoverboard laws to keep hoverboarders and pedestrians alike safe.
This article is a great guide to all changes of laws regarding this personal transportation method in the United States and also serves to teach you a little more about hoverboards and potential safety concerns you should keep an eye out for.
What Exactly Is A Hoverboard?
Currently existinghoverboards are nothing like you see in the movies or on television; but they are still awesome. Much like scooters, there are dozens of brands with companies offering full lines of hoverboards featuring different designs and enhancements. They are self-balancing scooters or boards sporting either one or two wheels. Above the wheels is a platform where the rider stands and it is powered by a rechargeable battery. The hoverboard levitates and is also powered by magnetic induction rather than just the wheels. To steer the hoverboard, shift your body weight with your feet, ankles and hips.
What Are They Made Of?
There are many working parts to make a hoverboard work. On the technical side, you have two infrared sensors and a logic board with a circuit. A plastic shell covers the rechargeable battery and charging port and a power switch cuts off the power when the board is not in use. Hoverboards also feature pressure pads and LED lights.
The battery is housed on one side of the hoverboard, while on the other side is all the parts needed to make the hoverboard work from a mechanical standpoint. The pressure pads detect your movements and cause the board to accelerate. The electric motors work with the tilting speed sensor to tell the wheel or wheels how many revolutions per minute to revolve. The rpm the wheels achieve determines how quickly the gyroscope revolves and how fast the hoverboard goes.
What Else Should I Know?
Check your local hoverboard laws before purchasing a hoverboard. Make sure you or your child falls within the safe weight range of the particular product. The most common minimum weight is 45 pounds while hoverboards can usually be safe for users up to 300 pounds. If your child is under the minimum weight limit, the pressure sensors will struggle to detect your child's weight and he may have trouble balancing. An adult weighing 220 pounds will drain the battery much faster than an adolescent weighing 120 pounds. Most hoverboards max out at 12 miles per hour, but some get up to 13 miles per hour.
Common Safety Concerns
Like any other method of transportation, there are safety concerns associated with hoverboards, and hoverboard laws seek to address these concerns. In 2015, the most common safety concern for hoverboards was exploding lithium-ion batteries. For this reason, major retailers are slow to re-stock their shelves with hoverboards, Amazon is issuing refunds and certain hoverboard manufacturers are designing a fire resistant chassis in case batteries explode.
Other Safety Concerns
There are no height requirements to ride a hoverboard, but most of them lift you four inches off of the ground. If you are tall, you risk hitting your head on branches you normally would not while riding this board. Be cautious going up or down hills with a grade of 30 degrees or more. Most boards are not capable of this.
As with skateboards, bicycles and walking, be cautious when riding your hoverboard on the road. While hoverboards may be legally classified as a bicycle in your state, traffic accidents can happen if a driver does not see you. As you learn to operate your hoverboard, wear wrist guards, knee and elbow pads and a helmet. This mitigates your risk of injuries such as sprains or fractures if you fall. Try not to go too fast while learning how to operate your hoverboard as they reach higher top speeds than skateboards and falling will hurt you worse.
How To Buy A Safe Hoverboard
Knock-off hoverboards sometimes have cheap electrical components and batteries that combust under great heat. To avoid buying a counterfeit hoverboard, purchase directly from a manufacturer's website or a trusted retailer rather than a third-party seller on Amazon. In 2015, Overstock and Amazon recommended customers who purchased hoverboards dispose of them due to the frequency of issues.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommended in early 2016 that consumers ensure purchased hoverboards are “certified UL 2272 compliant”. This means the hoverboardis manufactured by a company that can legally import the product into the United States. UL exists to “facilitate global trade and deliver peace of mind” by testing, validating, inspecting, verifying, certifying and auditing electrical devices. As of 2018, online retailers that sell UL 2272 certified hoverboards from eBay, Walmart, Target, Overstock and Amazon.
Latest And Updated Hoverboard Laws In The US
Now let's dive into the meat and potatoes of the article. Where do the current hoverboard laws in the United States stand? States are passing laws that allow municipalities to determine if hoverboards are legal in certain cities, and every area is different.
Before 2015, riding a hoverboard was illegal. However, California's Assembly Bill No. 64 passed effective New Year's Day 2016. This classified hoverboards as “electronically motorized boards” and legalized riding them. Hoverboard laws in California state you must be at least 16, wear a helmet and keep the board under 15 miles per hour. This is not a problem as hoverboards do not go over 13 miles per hour. The difficult part of this law is the hoverboard may only be ridden on streets with a maximum speed limit of 35 miles per hour.
As of 2018, the age to ride a hoverboard was lowered to 15. However, if you are seen riding one without proper safety gear, police can confiscate your hoverboard. This is a significant punishment as hoverboards can cost up to $1,800.
Hoverboard laws make taking hoverboards on public trains illegal. Due to complaints from pedestrians, hoverboards are banned on sidewalks and in hallways. Furthermore, private property owners are banning the use of hoverboards to mitigate the risk of liability issues stemming from roots or cracks in the sidewalk. With all the restrictions, it is difficult to enjoy a hoverboard in Los Angeles.
New York City
New York City did not initially have hoverboard laws in place. However, New York State Traffic Law 114-d was broad enough that the city determined hoverboards were an electronic “personal assist” mobility device and must be regulated in public spaces. Because NYC has a population of greater than a million, hoverboard riders must be licensed and register their hoverboards with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.
If you are caught riding a hoverboard where it is not permitted, you can be fined up to $500 per time you are ticketed. However, the average fines range from $200 to $250. Adults are more likely to get citations than children.
Besides cities passing hoverboard laws to make hoverboards illegal in certain locations, such as subways or indoors, certain businesses are restricting or banning the distribution, possession or use of hoverboards. Examples include major airlines, NFL teams, the US postal service and the MTA (metropolitan transportation authority of New York). Some retail outlets and shopping malls, most major colleges and universities, Disney theme parks and some public grade schools have also banned the use of hoverboards on their property.
The hoverboards of today are similar to scooters without handlebars, but many metropolises and private property owners around the country are banning or restricting them. Property owners including airports, retail outlets and public schools don't want the liability that comes with hoverboard use. Lawmakers are struggling to put hoverboard laws into place to ensure the safety of both riders and pedestrians.
Remember to check your local laws to ensure you are allowed to own and operate a hoverboard in your municipality. If hoverboards have been hovering in your mind lately, either for your child or yourself, put your mind at ease by purchasing a UL 2272 certified hoverboard from a legitimate online retailer such as Overstock, Amazon or eBay. Since 2015, hoverboards have been made with higher quality electronics and batteries which are more resistant to heat. However, there are still safety concerns regarding this product.
Make sure you fall within the safe weight range for the hoverboard you wish to buy. This is usually between 45 and 300 pounds. Look out for traffic if operating your hoverboard on the road, wear adequate safety equipment and try not to ride too fast while learning how to operate your hoverboard.
October 21, 2015 has come and gone and we still do not have a hoverboard like the one shown in Back To The Future: Part II, but what we have now is great and can do a lot of good to reduce traffic congestion if we are all careful and vigilant while riding and driving.