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We may have all seen some students cruising by the buildings at Troy on their hands-free, self-balancing scooters, or hoverboards, as they are called.
However, as of last week, hoverboards are now banned on Troy University’s campuses, due to rising safety concerns, including fires and falls.
On Thursday, Jan. 21, Herbert Reeves, dean of student services, sent out an email prohibiting all hands-free balancing scooters from use and storage on campus.
“Effective immediately, hoverboards shall not be used or stored in any Troy buildings or residence halls nor shall hoverboards be recharged in any Troy-owned or leased building or facility,” the email said.
Troy joins the University of Alabama, UAB, Alabama A&M, Auburn University and the University of Montevallo on the list of Alabama colleges that have banned hoverboards.
Since the hoverboard craze began in 2015, reports of fires erupting from the lithium-ion batteries have caused concern for consumers.
On Jan. 20, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Elliot Kaye released a statement on the CPSC website, which said that officials are working diligently to provide the answers on hoverboards that consumers rightfully want and deserve.
Hoverboard fires and explosions have reportedly occurred during charging, riding and sitting idle, and they have resulted in the damage of homes.
CNET.com reported that the CPSC was investigating 39 hoverboard fires across 19 states as of Jan. 20.
Xavier Harris, a senior broadcast journalism major from Montgomery, bought his hoverboard over Christmas after doing thorough research on the types that have had issues and the ones that have not.
“So I think it’s kind of like unfair that I went out and I purchased the type that doesn’t blow up or catch fire, and they get banned from the campus,” Harris said. “But I totally understand that they want to do the safety thing.
“I hope they quickly take the ban off of the hoverboards so I can start riding back around campus, since I can’t do it now.”
Jared Henderson, a junior computer science major from Pensacola, Florida, owns a hoverboard but took his home after the ban was announced.
“I don’t feel that the ban is necessary, but I understand that administration is just trying to keep us safe,” he said. “I just wish administration would have passed the policy before a bunch of people started to get hoverboards.
“It would have saved time and money.”
Hoverboards are also banned on several major U.S. airlines, including American Airlines and Delta, due to fire risks.
In New York City and the U.K., police have declared the use of hoverboards illegal because they are considered motor vehicles, and therefore not suitable for sidewalks. Since they cannot be registered, they are also not suitable for the road.
The risk of falling associated with hoverboards is also cause for concern, as Kaye said in his statement.
“Beyond the fire hazards, based on the increasing number of serious injuries and emergency room visits associated with these products, we are also expanding our investigation of the falls associated with hoverboards,” the statement said. “Many people, including children, have ended up with fractures, contusions or head/brain injuries.”
In his email, Reeves said that the policy on hoverboards will be subject to possible modification after campus officials have the opportunity to carefully review and discuss the findings of CPSC.
“Remember that campus safety is a community responsibility,” Reeves said. “It is important that we all work together to help ensure that Troy University is as safe as possible.”
According to Kaye, those who purchased a hoverboard from Amazon can return the product for a full refund.
In the meantime, Kaye urges those who own hoverboards to have a working fire extinguisher nearby while charging or using these boards in and around their homes, to charge boards in an open area away from combustible materials, and to wear safety gear and avoid roads while riding.