Leaders of some area colleges and universities are moving fast to ban the latest electronic fad.
McKendree University has already moved to ban hoverboards from its Lebanon campus. Leaders of Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville said they’re drawing up language to ban them soon.
McKendree sent out a notice to students their first day back for the spring semester on Tuesday that it’s not only forbidden to ride the devices on campus. It’s against school rules to even be in possession of one.
“Due to the recently reported safety risks with hoverboards, the university is prohibiting the use, possession, or storage of hoverboards, Segways, or similar devices,” McKendree Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Joni Bastian said of the decision to ban the devices. “We will continue to monitor information provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission as they investigate reported concerns and work to develop safety standards.”
Lindenwood University-Belleville President Brett Barger said his school hasn’t considered banning the devices. But that doesn’t mean that he’s not apprehensive about them.
“We haven’t even seen one on campus to date, so a ban is not something we’re currently contemplating,” Barger said.
But Barger added he’s aware of this issues with the devices and has concerns about them.
“My daughters were desperate to have them for Christmas and I let them know we’ll wait until the technology sorts itself out,” Barger said.
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville leaders did not immediately return calls about whether hoverboards are allowed on that campus.
Hoverboards, as they’re called, don’t actually hover. They’re self-balancing slabs of plastic and metal suspended between two wheels on which you can ride. They’re more accurately described as being similar to a Segway personal transportation device — but without handlebars.
Teenagers say the new-age versions of skateboards are tons of fun. But consumer watchdogs first issued a warning because the batteries that power the devices have, on occasion, burst into flames. More recently, the devices have been blamed for a rash of head injuries and broken bones.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Elliot Kaye issued a statement Wednesday on the hoverboards issue, questioning their safety:
“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,” Kaye said. “At first glance, it is easy to believe the risk of falling off a hoverboard is an obvious one and to dismiss those injuries as user inexperience or error.
“However, I am concerned, for example, that the current designs of these products might not take fully into consideration the different weights of different users, potentially leading to the units speeding up or lurching in a manner that a user would not have reason to anticipate, especially a first-time user,” Kay continued. “We are looking deeper into the design of these products to see if they present a hidden hazard that is leading to fall injuries that should not occur, even on a product that presents some risk of falling.”
Kaye said people shouldn’t underestimate the potential for injury.
“Fall injuries can be serious and life-altering,” Kaye said. “Many people, including children, have ended up with fractures, contusions or head/brain injuries.
“Hospitals across the country are reporting spikes in children and adults being admitted after suffering serious falls,” Kaye said. “If you or your child continues to use this product, I recommend that you do so with a helmet and pads. I have two very active young boys, so I very much appreciate the struggle sometimes to get kids to use safety gear. But, wearing proper safety gear in this instance should be non-negotiable.”