Hoverboard Lithium Battery Risks Lead to Safety Alert by Federal Transport Regulators

Concerns over lithium battery risks with Hoverboards, as reports continue to surface where some of the self-balancing electric scooters burst into flames or caught on fire, have caused federal regulators to warn that the products should be shipped as hazardous materials. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a safety alert on December 24, warning that it had intercepted 32 cargo containers full of hoverboards, indicating that they were improperly shipped because they were not handled as though they were hazardous materials.

The PHMSA found that more than 80% of the shippers could not produce valid test reports showing that the hoverboard lithium batteries were properly tested and packaged so that they would maintain integrity during transport.

Did You Know?

Millions of Philips CPAP Machines Recalled

Philips DreamStation, CPAP and BiPAP machines sold in recent years may pose a risk of cancer, lung damage and other injuries.

Learn More

“Lithium batteries are a powerful, lightweight and rechargeable source of energy that is generally safe when manufactured and handled properly,” the PHMSA warned. “However, the batteries can spontaneously generate increasingly intense heat and catch fire or explode.”

Hoverboards were a popular holiday gift this year, with many families throughout the U.S. receiving the scooters under their Christmas tree last week. However, serious concerns have emerged about the safety of the recently introduced devices, including incidents of spontaneous combustion, while charging or being operated.

In December, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) began investigating hoverboard safety, following reports of at least 12 fires and more than 30 hospitalizations from burns and trauma injuries.

Certain retailers, such as Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart, Overstock.com, have decided to stop selling certain designs of the hoverboard that include lithium-ion battery assemblies. The United Kingdom has banned the scooters.

The U.S. Postal Service banned the boards from air transport, expressing concerns that they might burst into flames and bring down a plane.

The PHMSA put forward the possibility that the hoverboard lithium battery risks may be due to poor manufacturing or improper shipping from overseas. The agency also warned that shippers could be held liable for civil and criminal penalties if they were unable to prove that the hoverboards were shipped properly and met hazardous materials safety standards.

The safety alert indicates that shipments of hoverboards containing lithium batteries should be identified on shipping manifests and properly tested and prepared for shipping as required by that particular mode of transportation.

“It’s critical that lithium batteries are packaged and transported according to the correct specifications because, under certain conditions, they can generate heat, catch on fire and explode during transportation,” PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez said in a press release. “PHMSA is conducting a complete and thorough investigation to ensure that hoverboards containing lithium batteries are transported in accordance with Federal hazardous materials regulations.”

According to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, the majority of the hoverboards are manufactured in the southern Chinese region of Shenzhen and Zhejiang, and are not registered or regulated. The owner of Ninebot Inc., the company that owns Segway, told the press that many Chinese hoverboard manufacturers are fly-by-night type businesses and may be open one day and gone the next, leaving consumers stranded with hazardous products that won’t be remedied.

At least one Hoverboard fire lawsuit has already been filed against manufacturer Swagway, who sells the self-balancing scooters for roughly $399.

According to court documents, a resident of Chappaqua, New York has filed suit against Swagway alleging the scooter he purchased burst into flames during the charging period, resulting in the dispatch of fire fighters to extinguish the burning house.

The Swagway scooters are among those equipped with lithium batteries and presumably part of the CPSC’s ongoing investigation.


"*" indicates required fields

Share Your Comments

I authorize the above comments be posted on this page*

Have Your Comments Reviewed by a Lawyer

Provide additional contact information if you want an attorney to review your comments and contact you about a potential case. This information will not be published.

NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Top Stories

Onewheel "Nosedive" Lawsuit Filed Days Before Manufacturer Recalled Electric Skateboards (Posted today)

A OneWheel nosedive lawsuit claims the battery-operated scooter is defectively designed, causing riders to suffer serious injuries when the device suddenly stops and pitches forward.

Problems with Philips CPAP Machines Reported 11 Years Before Recall Issued By Manufacturer
Problems with Philips CPAP Machines Reported 11 Years Before Recall Issued By Manufacturer (Posted 4 days ago)

A ProPublica report reveals that Philips officials hid thousands of reports of problems with sound abatement foam used in millions of CPAP machines, failing to recall the devices for more than a decade after receiving the first complaints.