When one searches for hoverboards on the internet, it will yield many results of people doing fascinating tricks on this new piece of technology that seems to have come straight out of Back to the Future. Unlike the hoverboards seen on this popular science fiction movie from the 1980s, the boards do not hover over the ground; instead they have two wheels, and it moves according to how the rider shifts their body weight similar to a Segway but without the handle. Hoverboards came out toward the end of the year 2014 and gained popularity quickly; many celebrities and famous people on Youtube have helped to increase the popularity. They were an extremely coveted item this holiday season. Recently there has been an increasing amount of videos and articles on how hoverboards have been catching on fire and have become a large safety hazards. In light of all of the dangers that have arisen involving hoverboards, the college has decided to place a ban on this new mode of transportation; it was made official by making a change to the Student Handbook on January 8, 2016.
Assistant Director of Campus Security, Dale Boyer, said that hoverboards are a safety and fire hazard. Several houses have already burned down due to hoverboards, and he does not want “to burn residence halls down” as a result of the faulty wirings and the highly flammable lithium ion batteries of the hoverboards. Boyer has only personally seen one hoverboard in use. The Dean of Students, Marianne Calenda, said that Andrew Powell, the Director of Campus Security, advised banning hoverboards because of the danger associated with them and that she “supported his recommendation because of our commitment to student safety.”
USA Today reported that a fire caused by a hoverboard has occurred as recently as Tuesday January 19. The fire was caused by the hoverboard’s flammable lithium ion battery, and it caused much damage to the home. While this all occurred the family was not there but the owners’ two dogs were at home and tragically died. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is researching 37 fires in 19 states that are all related to hoverboards. Due to the incidents that have occurred, Amazon is now offering full refunds for any hoverboard that was purchased from their website. Not only do the hoverboards present a large fire hazard and cause explosions, but there is a high fall risk associated with them as well. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that falls and other serious injuries have been associated with the use of the hoverboard. Many of these falls have resulted in visits to the emergency room, followed with reports of fractures and brain injuries. The BCC reported an even more drastic outcome from the use of the hoverboards. The British news site stated that a 15 year old in London was hit by a bus and killed while using a hoverboard. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently collaborating with other companies to create standards that will prevent the fire hazards associated with hoverboards and also decrease the fall risk.
Elizabethtown College is not the only place that has enacted a ban hoverboards. According to Dale Boyer, anywhere from 50 to 70 colleges and universities across the United States have also banned the use of hoverboards. The New York Police Department has also made hoverboards illegal in New York City; they are also banned on airlines. According to CNN, hoverboards have been recently made illegal in the United Kingdom as well. Those that have been caught with them have had them confiscated, and the BCC reports that 88% of the 15,000 hoverboards that have been taken were found to be faulty.
Despite the popularity of hoverboards, there has not been much of an outcry from the students of Elizabethtown College. First year student Rebecca Young believes that even though hoverboards are a fun, new technology, she “completely understands the safety concerns and the possibility for disruption on campus.” George Heberlig feels that “it is very wise of the campus [to ban them] with the reviews of hoverboards having a tendency of catching on fire” even though he finds it “disappointing not to be able to have fun with them anymore, but there is a reliability of the college to keep the students safe.”