Hoverboards have gained popularity and a few countries have taken the lead in rolling out regulations that govern the use and development of hoverboard riding as a mode of transport. It is unfortunate that the US is not at the forefront when it comes to the development of such regulations.
This article will provide a detailed guide on the legal status of hoverboards in the United States, UK, Canada, Australia (and its territories) and other select countries.
What is a hoverboard?
Hoverboards, also known as self-balancing scooters, have been gaining popularity in recent years. Due to their similarity to skateboards and Segways, there has been some confusion about their legal status.
A hoverboard is defined as a two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered personal transport device. The rider stands on the board and uses their feet to control the speed and direction of travel.
Hoverboards first hit the market in 2015 and were immediately popular, with celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner being early adopters.
Are hoverboards legal?
As of September 2022, most countries including the UK, Australia, Germany and Brazil do not have laws prohibiting or making use of hoverboards illegal. This is different at home here in the US though. Few States such as New York have banned riding these self-balancing scooters on both sidewalks and roads because they don’t classify as motor vehicles. New York is the only state in the USA with strict laws or bills that restrict people from using these self-balancing scooters on roads and sideways.
Are the use of hoverboards regulated:
There are credible reasons for regulating hoverboards and there are also those that argue that such regulation would only serve to stifle innovation.
Regulating the use of hoverboards would ensure that riders are using them safely and not putting themselves or others at risk. It would also allow for the development of infrastructure, such as dedicated lanes or parking areas, which would make it easier and safer for people to use hoverboards.
As motorized vehicles, they are able to move fast – like any other vehicle utilizing a motor to move with speed and is therefore considered to pose risk to other road users. The DMV which registers and regulates motor vehicles has not been able to come with a consensus on how to classify hoverboards and this has made it difficult to put in place rules for their use.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has identified over 60 incidents of hoverboard fires and explosions in 20 states, which have caused over $2 million in property damage, including the destruction of two homes and an apartment.
In light of these safety concerns, many retailers have stopped selling hoverboards and some airlines have banned them from being carried on planes.
The lack of regulation around hoverboards means that it is up to individuals to decide whether or not they want to use one. If you do decide to use a hoverboard, it is important to be aware of the risks involved and take steps to minimize them.
Here are some safety tips:
– Only use a hoverboard that has been certified by a reputable organization such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
– Do not charge the hoverboard overnight or while you are not home.
– Keep the hoverboard away from flammable materials such as gasoline, lighters, or matches.
– Do not ride the hoverboard in wet conditions.
– Wear protective gear while riding, including a helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads.
– Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and care of the hoverboard.
Are hoverboards legal in the United States?
The short answer is that there is no federal law governing the use of hoverboards, so it is up to each individual state to decide whether they are legal or not.
Some states, such as California, have banned the use of hoverboards on public roads and sidewalks. Other states, such as Florida, have no such restrictions. New York City also considers hoverboards as moto vehicles that cannot be registered with DMV as detailed on the New York City’s website in the snapshot below.
New York City has indicated that hoverboards are illegal to use in trains, buses, subway stations, city business, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, Staten Island Railway and Access-A-Ride
If you are planning to use a hoverboard in the United States, it is important to check the laws of your state or local municipality to see if there are any restrictions in place.
Is Hoverboard illegal in the UK?
No, hoverboards are currently legal in the UK. However, the government has said that it is reviewing the law to see if hoverboards should be classified as motor vehicles. This would mean that they would be subject to the same rules and regulations as other motorized vehicles, such as cars and motorcycles.
The UK was one of the first pass a law on hoverboards with the Department for Transport announcing in October 2015 that all hoverboards would be illegal to ride in public spaces unless they met certain safety requirements. Read the whole story in the Guardian here.
The requirements included:
-The board must have a maximum speed of 20km/h
-It must have working brakes
-It must have a motor no bigger than 50cc
-The rider must be at least 12 years old and wear a helmet
If the board does not meet these requirements, then it is considered an illegal vehicle and it is illegal to ride it in public. This means that you can only ride your hoverboard on private property, such as your own home or garden.
Some local authorities have also banned the use of hoverboards in certain public spaces, such as shopping centres and parks. If you are planning to use a hoverboard in a public space, it is important to check with the local authority to see if there are any restrictions in place.
Is Hoverboard legal in Public Roads?
UK has passed a regulation specifying that powered transporters that meet certain conditions can use public roads.
The requirements include;
- The motorized vehicle has to be insured
- It must conform with technical standards and standards of use
- payment of vehicle tax,
- licensing, and registration;
- driver testing and licensing;
- and the use of relevant safety equipment.
As per the requirements above, hoverboards are not legal in public roads in the UK.
To date, no federal law has been passed regarding hoverboards in the U.S., and though some cities have brought the question to a vote, as of 2022 none have successfully done so.
Can you ride a hoverboard on the street?
Some jurisdictions have made it illegal to ride hoverboards on roads or streets with a speed limit of 35 mph or higher. People are not permitted to ride hoverboards on any road or street with a speed limit of 35 mph or greater. Although an electronically motorized board is defined in the vehicle code as being able to travel up to 20 mph, riders are not allowed to go faster than 15 mph.
Universities and other educational institutions may also restrict hoverboards as they see fit. Even though they are not expressly prohibited from sidewalks, bikeways, or recreational pathways, local authorities might prohibit them. So double-check first. However, this applies to everything in life.
Where are hoverboards Illegal?
With news of exploding hoverboards, many airlines banned them altogether. This includes Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and others. If you still want to bring your hoverboard with you on vacation, one option is to pack it as a checked item of luggage or carry-on.
Read the list of all countries where hoverboards are legal or illegal in this blog post here.
Are hoverboards legal in Ireland?
The Irish parliament has yet to pass any legislation banning hoverboards in Irelend and its cities such as Dublin. According to an Irish website, They are not prohibited in Ireland yet, but authorities have “significant safety concerns” about their use here and just the other day, 1,000 hoverboards were seized at Dublin Port.
Are hoverboards legal in Australia?
The legality of using an electric skateboard, otherwise known as an e-scooter or hoverboards, depends on where you want to ride it. On roads and paths in the Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia, and Tasmania, it’s acceptable to utilize an electric skateboard or any other Personal Mobility Device (PMD), including e-scooters and electric unicycles. Electric skateboards are permitted on private properties only in other states and territories; they can’t be used on the road or in any road-related locations, such as footpaths, shared pathways, or public areas.
Product Safety Australia has prohibited the sale and trade of self-balancing scooters (also known as hoverboards, gliders, smart boards, sky walkers, and mod boards) that do not meet safety standards. The Australian Capital Territory placed a ban on hoverboards being used in public areas.
Here are briefs on hoverboard legislations in some Australian cities and provinces;
You are not permitted to ride electric skateboards on public roads or road-related spaces such as footpaths and nature strips in Victoria. Electric skates can only be used on private property with the permission of the property owner.
In Western Australia, electric skateboards and e-skateboards are not permitted on public roads and pathways due to the legality of e-scooters and e-skateboards. Because they can reach such high speeds and have strong motors, they can only be used on private property, with riders strongly advised to use a helmet. Read the Government of Western Australia’s statement on e-skateboards here.
According to the Department of Transportation in Western Australia’s 2020 blog post, e-scooter riders who are compliant with the relevant power output and speed regulations must also follow these rules under the Road Traffic Code 2000:
- Riders must wear a helmet;
- Riders are permitted on footpaths and shared paths, so long as the rider keeps left and gives way to pedestrians;
- Riders cannot ride on roads with a speed limit exceeding 50 km/h;
- Riders cannot ride on roads with a dividing line or median strip;
- Riders cannot ride on one-way roads with more than one marked lane; and
- Riders cannot ride during the hours of darkness.
The live page of the Department of Transportations blog post on e-scooters regulation is no longer available but I was able to find an archived page and took a screenshot below;