Everyone knows now that hoverboards are both a hot tech toy and, well, a hot tech toy:
Despite soaring in popularity for the past year or so, these “self-balancing scooters” have been associated with fire-related incidents across 24 states and abroad—often the result of an overheated battery. Even the ones that aren’t actually on fire can easily cause their riders to tumble, as Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner have demonstrated. As a result, universities, airlines, and even sports teams have banned hoverboards from their premises. Just last week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission determined that hoverboards are unsafe. The federal agency is asking for new safety standards and even a voluntarily recall until hoverboards can be “certified as safe” by an independent testing body.
Until December, a large number of hoverboard manufacturers were small Chinese companies that could evade safety regulations. The hoverboards produced by these companies were often powered by low-quality lithium-ion batteries prone to overheating and subsequently exploding. Amazon has since taken decisive action—originally whittling down the number of manufacturers allowed to sell hoverboards on their site from dozens to a mere seven. Earlier this year U.S. marshals descended on the Consumer Electronics Shows in Las Vegas to raid the booth of a Chinese manufacturer that allegedly copied the hoverboard design of San Francisco–based startup, Future Valley.
And just this week, Amazon announced that it was “pulling all its hoverboards from its website,” leaving behind only an assortment of accessorizing decals and wheels. Buying a hoverboard is getting close to impossible. Bringing it places isn’t much easier.
So, assuming you already have your hands on one and it hasn’t incinerated itself, where can you take a hoverboard? Not these places:
While it might have been one of 2015’s trendiest ways of getting to class, several universities have deemed hoverboards a public health risk to students. More than 30 institutions have in some capacity restricted the use of hoverboards on their campuses. The most recent additions to this growing list are Tulane University and San Francisco State.
With their potentially combustible battery, hoverboards have been banned as both checked and carry-on luggage by several airlines. These carriers include Air Canada, Delta Airlines, Air France, Emirates, and Korean Airlines. Russell Crowe said he would never fly Virgin Australia again because of its ban.
Locker rooms and stadiums
In January, an anxious Mario Anderson of the Carolina Panthers admitted to ESPN, “I keep [my hoverboard] in the hallway away from everything just in case it decides to blow up on me.” Anderson’s caution follows the ban that the Panthers’ coach, Ron Rivera, placed on hoverboards inside the team’s stadium. In conversation with ESPN, Rivera warned, “I said, ‘Guys we can’t have those in here. You bring one of those in here and they short-circuit and the next thing you know we’ve got a freaking fire here.’ ” The Cleveland Cavaliers have instituted a similar ban in their arena.
Hoverboards are also threatening the safety of shopping centers—with one combusting in a suburban Texas mall during its busy after-Christmas sales. The mall has since banned hoverboards from its premises. In Dubai, hoverboards have been banned from malls since October 2015.
Roads and sidewalks
Since 2011, the United Kingdom’s Department of Transportation has prohibited the use of motorized vehicles such as Segways on its roads and sidewalks. Its ban on hoverboards is an extension of this.
While it is legal to own a hoverboard in New York, it’s illegal to operate one pretty much anywhere outside of your residence. Hoverboards have been banned from New York City streets and subways since mid-November, and given the cautionary posters that the Metropolitan Transit Authority posted in buses and subway cars this week, it doesn’t look like that will be changing any time soon.
For his decision to ban hoverboards, New South Wales Minister of Roads Duncan Gay was dubbed “The Christmas Grinch.” Gay doesn’t mind the title however, saying that he’d rather subject himself to negative public opinion than compromise a child’s safety. “I want people to know and send a message that these toys have real safety concerns,” he cautions.
Southern California commuter trains
In early January, Metrolink—Southern California’s commuter rail system—banned hoverboards. The ban was issued in response to a cellphone video that captured a hoverboard combusting in Los Angeles’ Koreatown.
The Mardis Gras parade in Mobile, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama, has long been celebrated as the cradle of Mardis Gras in America—with its annual parade season drawing thousands of spectators. This also makes it an especially risky location for a hoverboard explosion. So this year, in the interest of public safety, the Mobile police announced that anyone in possession of a hoverboard near the parade route would be fined or even arrested. Let the good times roll on foot, not wheels, people.
After a video of Mike Tyson falling off a hoverboard went viral last month, Lewiston, Maine, instituted a ban on hoverboards. Deputy City Administrator Phil Nadeau was quoted saying, “When I saw [Tyson] fall, I was shocked at how easy it could be … they carry an inherent risk in their design.” And though the city could not cite any instances of hoverboards being used indoors, its library apparently has an indoor-skateboarding problem. And so the Lewiston City Council voted to ban “hoverboards and all similar-wheeled devices from indoor use in city buildings.” The city’s library director added, “It’s just not appropriate for the library.”