Balance wheels are banned in parts of the US, Netherlands, UK, Hong Kong and Australia. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai has joined New York, Netherlands, UK, Hong Kong and New South Wales, Australia in banning hoverboards in public.

The guidelines surrounding the use of self-balancing scooters – known as hoverboards – were clarified on Sunday, after Dubai Municipality confirmed that the boards have now been banned in public areas.

Residents found flouting the rules will have their hoverboards confiscated, according to the municipality’s rules and regulations.

Sultan Al Suwaidi, deputy head of the municipality’s Public Health and Safety Department, told Gulf News that as per the new guidelines, hoverboards are prohibited in crowded areas, sidewalks, roads, and other public areas.

They can only be used in designated parks that have an allocated space for bicycles.

“The rules state that hoverboards should only be used in designated areas, which means that they are allowed on cycling tracks in parks and anywhere else that allow skateboards or bicycles,” he said.

Up until recently, the Dubai Department of Economic Development had banned the hoverboards only in shopping malls.

Al Suwaidi explained that to protect the public’s safety, hoverboard users are now required to wear protective gear, such as helmets, gloves, elbows and knee pads. Children are also required to be under adult supervision.

The popular toys are powered by an electric motor fed by lithium batteries, allowing riders to control the gadgets at speeds of more than 15km/h. On a two-hour charge, hoverboards can run for up to four hours on average.

“We also addressed the issue of how hoverboards should be used because otherwise, they posed a risk to other people [in the vicinity],” he said, adding that they should be charged as instructed by the manufacturing company, and should not be in contact with flammable material.

Social media has been flooded daily with videos of hoverboards catching fire and exploding and news stories recounting house fires in Europe and North America attributed to overcharging the devices.

“The new rules clearly state that hoverboards should be used by one person at a time. People who have a high safety risk, such as those who are pregnant or who have fractured bones, should not be using it either,” he said.

The safety issue regarding hoverboards came under the spotlight after the death of a six-year-old Emirati child who was run over by a car in Abu Dhabi last October, while travelling on a hoverboard. These balance wheels are battery-powered boards which resemble a skateboard or a mini Segway without a handle.

Following the incident, Dubai Police warned hoverboard owners to stay off roads, sidewalks and car parks while riding their devices or they will be fined Dh200 as pedestrians who are not abiding local traffic laws.

Hoverboard accidents in the UAE

January 05, 2016: A Filipino man died after he hit a lamppost while riding a hoverboard in Mushrif Park, Dubai.

October 19, 2015: The Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) bans smart balance wheels in all the shopping malls in Dubai.

October 12, 2016: A six-year-old Emirati child riding a hoverboard dies after run over by a car while travelling around on a smart balance wheel in Abu Dhabi.

Compiled by Gulf News Archives