Hoverboards banned on campus due to safety concerns

By Emily Lepkowski

Jan. 27, 2016

 

UW-Whitewater is joining college campuses across the nation in a move to ban this past holiday’s hottest gift, because of their tendency to go up in smoke. The use of hoverboards, an increasingly trendy mode of transportation, has sparked a conversation between campus officials and has brought a lot of public comment on social media.

UW-W joins UW-Madison and Madison Area Technical College in banning the hands-free scooters, along with numerous other colleges and universities across the nation. The decision to ban hoverboards in residence halls was made over winter break in order to prevent students from bringing them back to their residence halls after the holidays.

The ban is not limited to just hoverboard devices: motorcycles, mopeds, self-balancing scooters, segways and drones are included in the University Housing’s official ban, which took effect immediately with the start of the spring semester.

Associate director of University Housing Terry Tumbarello sent out an email to all students living in residence halls the week before classes started, saying the ban is a “necessary step” to protect students.

“We don’t believe we had that many students that would have brought them, but either way we felt it was a safety concern,” Tumbarello said.

As of now, the university has not drafted a policy about using hoverboards on campus walkways and academic buildings, with the University Housing ban not being synonymous across all of campus.

The policy set by University Housing differs from those put in place by the nearby universities, because UW-Madison had not determined whether they’d ban the scooter devices in residence halls as of early January, but have instead banned them in academic buildings, which UW-W has not done.

Attention was drawn to the safety concerns about hoverboards after the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) put out a news release on Dec. 16, 2015, stating consumers should be cautious of the technology because of its increased risk for catching on fire due to its lithium-ion batteries.

“It seems hoverboards are the hottest holiday gifts on the planet this year,” Lorraine Carli, NFPA Outreach and Advocacy vice president, said in the December news release. “A number of media outlets [are] reporting fire incidents is cause for caution to avoid Christmas wishes going up in smoke.”

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) engineers in Maryland are testing new and damaged hoverboards in order to narrow down causes as to why the devices are catching fire. CPSC is also investigating the hazard the devices pose of riders falling off as an uptick in reports of ER visits resulting from using the scooters, chairman Elliot Kaye said in a December news release.

The ban was also enforced due to the popularity of the hoverboard devices and the potential increased number of them on campus.

“There was too great of a concern that students acquired, whether it be through gifts or just themselves, these hoverboards over break,” Tumbarello said.

Tumbarello stated that the university would revisit the status of the ban and reconsider allowing them back in residence halls if significant changes are made to the hoverboard technology to fix the safety issues.

If you have any concerns about an item falling under the ban, please contact University Housing at (262) 472-4200.

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