Hoverboard Riders Faster Than Pedestrians – But Just As Unprotected

May 2019

Vehicle Technology

Hoverboard

In Hollywood in the 1980s, the so-called hoverboard was still a dream of the future. Michael J. Fox was on the road in the classic movie “Back to the Future”. Today, the self-balancing,electric, single-axle machines with the same name work in reality – even if not in the hovering form – and are especially popular with children and adolescents. Unlike the segway, which has been around for some time, these boards do not have a “handlebar”. The wheel drives are controlled by two electric motors simply by shifting the weight of the feet.

But now the risks of hoverboards are – unlike in Hollywood – very real. This is substantiated by a crash test conducted by DEKRA. Here, a car collided at around 40 km/h with a dummy on a hoverboard, which was thrown 18.8 meters. A real accident would have resulted in serious injury. Because just like pedestrians, hoverboard riders are unprotected on the road and seriously endangered in collisions with cars, for example. But at speeds of up to 20 km/h, a hoverboard travels much faster than a pedestrian. Since motorists are usually not expecting to encounter hoverboards, critical situations are inevitable. Even collisions between hoverboard riders and pedestrians can have painful consequences. In Germany, a personal light electric vehicle regulation is currently being worked on to regulate by law where and how fast vehicles with electric motors, with or without a handlebar, like electric scooters and hoverboards, are allowed to be ridden: on the road, on a bicycle path, or on the sidewalk? So far, use on public roads in Germany is prohibited. The regulation is to provide clarity on this point as well as on the question of registration requirements. Other EU countries such as France, Finland, Belgium, and Denmark allow the use of personal light electric vehicles with a top speed of 20 km/h, otherwise they are legally equated with bicycles or pedelecs.

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