By Moa Golster
After the hoverboard started to appear in the streets and on celebrity Instagram sites in 2015, it quickly became the must-have gadget of the year. Recently, however, the self-balancing, motorized scooter has been the object of legal and safety concerns. LIU Post is now among an increasing number of colleges across the country prohibiting hoverboards on their campuses.
Notices posted in the B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library entrance, and elsewhere on campus, inform students that “LIU Post is prohibiting the usage, storage and charging of [hoverboards] on campus, this includes, residence halls, academic buildings or any other buildings, walkways and parking lots.”
According to a Huffington Post article last month by Collin Binkley, at least 20 universities have banned or restricted hoverboards during or after the winter break this winter. The online news source reported that the risk of falls and collisions is a concern, but that many colleges are also responding to warnings from federal authorities that some hoverboards have caught on fire. Dean of Students, Abagail Van Vlerah, confirmed that this is the case on campus.
“Because of recent news reports regarding hoverboard fires and because the safety and security of our students is our top priority, the university chose to ban hoverboards from campus,” Van Vlerah wrote in an email to The Pioneer.
An unconfirmed number of hoverboards were actually purchased by the university for students to rent through the campus concierge last semester. These have now been returned to the seller for full price, according to Van Vlerah.
Students have cooperated with the new policy, according to Van Vlerah, and no feedback has been received by the dean of student’s office or Campus Life.
In November, a Louisiana home was destroyed when a hoverboard exploded after it was left plugged in to charge, according to wgntv.com. During the past month, several incidents about charging hoverboards catching fire have been reported also in New York and New Jersey. The incidents are believed to have been caused by poorly made batteries.
Stony Brook University, which has also announced a campus ban, is warning students on its website about safety alerts from the National Fire Protection Association and the NYS Office of Fire Prevention in relation to hoverboards. Furthermore, the university reports that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is investigating the cause of fires and risks linked to fires in 17 states.
The hoverboard, which is an evolution of the infamous Segway “personal transportation device,” caused concern almost immediately after it entered the market. In November, NYPD officials prohibited hoverboards in New York City, simply because they are motor vehicles that cannot be registered. Unlawful hoverboarding on sidewalks, streets or parking lots could result in a fine of up to $200, according to the New York Daily News.
New York isn’t the only state to regulate the use of hoverboards. In California, a new law has gone into effect that requires hoverboard users to wear helmets and limit speeds to 35 mph. It also prohibits anyone under 16 from riding the devices.