Abu Dhabi ‘hoverboard’ death: Panic over new phenomenon among kids

This week, a six-year-old boy on a hoverboard was reportedly run over by a car in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi. (YouTube/ Jared Mecham)

The recent death of a UAE-based child while on a “hoverboard" has sparked safety concerns over the self-balancing scooter which is growing in popularity worldwide.

The new toy scooter, popular with adults and children alike, is said to pose a risk to public safety, which has led to the enforcement of laws regulating the use of the boards in different parts of the world.

The smart balance wheels are battery-powered boards which can travel at a maximum speed of 16km/h. To control the vehicle, users lean forward and backward to alter the direction it travels and to maintain their balance on the electric skateboard.

This week, a six-year-old boy on a hoverboard was reportedly run over by a car in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi.

The incident prompted local police to warn people of safety concerns when allowing children to ride their electric scooters on roads, warning they could cause accidents.

They also urged parents to ensure that their children only use them in designated areas, such as parks, as they have been banned in some shopping malls across the UAE, according to a report by the UAE-based Ahlan Live.

Many people who have shared their opinions on the phenomenon with Al Arabiya News said they believed the hoverboards were “dangerous” to ride in public.

Amal Abu Fadda, a Dubai resident and a mother of two, said while she did get her children a hoverboard, she still thought they were “unsafe” and only allowed her children to use the board “under her supervision.”

“I have to be around them all the time because they can go really fast using these air boards,” she said, adding that they can only use them inside their gated neighborhood, where cars are driven more slowly.

Nadya Khatib, a Riyadh-based mother of two, said she allowed her children to ride them in a closed community, but she said “they shouldn’t be used in crowded places such as malls, as they could be dangerous to bystanders.”

In the same vein, Dana Abdullah, a 25-year-old Palestinian living in Dubai, said she thinks “hoverboards pose a risk to innocent bystanders if an accident should occur.”

Some hoverboards critics are afraid the machine could encourage less activity.

“It is just giving them (the users) another reason not to do any simple physical activity,” said Maha Al Moussli, a UAE-based Syrian mother.

Mohammad Mashhadawi said he did not think hoverboards were dangerous, but said they could “increase obesity and make people lazy, as they will not walk or bike anymore.”

Global phenomenon

The electric scooters have recently become a global phenomenon, and have been seen used by celebrities and international football stars.

But this week, the British Crown Prosecution Service said that technically the use of the boards on public roads and pavements was now banned under UK law, and is only legal to use on private property.

Last month, a video went viral that showed a Muslim pilgrim cruising around the Ka'aba on a hoverboard at the Holy Grand Mosque in Makkah, triggering mixed reactions.

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Last Update: 12:43 KSA 15:43 - GMT 12:43
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