Smith Follows Nationwide Trend Of Hoverboard Bans

Rachel Farber '16Assistant News Editor

Dean of Students Julianne Ohotnicky sent an email to the campus community on Jan. 14 informing students about the college’s new policy banning hoverboards.  The devices pose several safety threats that have precipitated bans on hoverboards across the country.

Hoverboards contain lithium ion batteries and have been reported to spontaneously catch fire.  “Until [the] cause of these fires is fully understood and the risks have been mitigated, it is in the best interest of community safety that we prohibit these devices,” said Ohotnicky in the email.

Smith’s ban follows the trend of hoverboard ban policies on college campuses around the country.

UMass Amherst also announced a policy prohibiting “hoverboards and similar devices,” David Robinson, executive director of environmental health and safety at UMass reported to The Daily Collegian.  The ban at UMass also includes “self-balancing scooters, battery-operated scooters and hands-free segways.”

Over 30 colleges have banned hoverboards, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating the fires caused by hoverboards.

Buzzfeed reported that hundreds of factories in China are the main manufacturers of hoverboards, but the devices are imported and sold by only 30 companies in the United States.  Due to the fad, factories are quickly changing what products they make – factories that just days ago produced e-cigarettes and speakers, according to Buzzfeed, are now making hoverboards.    

The ban on hoverboards, as well as the ban on other devices containing lithium ion batteries, has extended past college campuses. Many airlines have also banned hoverboards from all flights.

Even the U.S. Postal Service banned the shipment of hoverboards by airplane.  According to a USPS statement, “This product travels on ground transportation, due to the potential safety hazards of lithium batteries.”

In addition, Amazon warned customers to throw away certain hoverboard devices and promised customers a refund for their purchase.  “We regret the inconvenience this may cause but trust you will understand that your safety and satisfaction is our highest priority,” the retailer stated in an email to affected customers.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City has one of the most expansive bans on hoverboards. On Jan. 27, the MTA banned the possession of hoverboards on New York City subways, city buses, Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Railroad trains and the Staten Island Railway, as well as all platforms.

In its statement, the MTA cited a study by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration, which found that 80 percent of hoverboards tested used batteries that were not certified properly.

“If you have one of these devices, please remove it from campus. If you receive or purchase one of these devices during the break,” Ohotnicky said in her campus-wide email, “please know that you will not be able to have it on campus, and if it is found, it will be confiscated.”