Recently, a college professor wrote an article questioning whether hoverboards were good for people, according to the health hazards. His report largely comes off negatively, as he says he’s seen students using the boards constantly on campus — and in growing numbers — and he is concerned about what that means for them. He also cites a few news reports about problems and accidents people have had with hoverboards.
You can read the article, but it’s worth noting that some of his points, no matter how good his intentions, are not as spot on as he thinks they are. In many cases, he unfairly blames hoverboards for problems where blame is not needed. Let’s examine this so that the truth about these boards can be clear.
Accidents on the Rise
One of the main things that he talks about is how accidents involving people on hoverboards have been on the rise. Sometimes, he talks rather vaguely about an upward trend, without providing much in the way of numbers. He does give one good statistic, saying that 250 people were hurt in the UK while riding these in one month.
While that’s no doubt true, it’s a bit of a stretch to blame the whole thing on the boards. It’s unclear if the board or the rider was at fault. For example, if someone tried to cross the street and was hit by a car, breaking his or her leg, it’s easy to point to the board and note how accidents are on the rise. But there are important questions that could tell more about what really happened, including the following:
1. Did the car cause the accident? Perhaps the person was allowed to cross and the car ran the red light.
2. Were any other people involved? Pedestrians or cyclists could also have played a role in the crash.
3. Was the board defective? As with any product, there is a chance it could be defective. Every wheeled device, from a car to a bike to a skateboard, carries the same risk. The boards as a whole shouldn’t be blamed because of one defect.
4. Did the rider make a mistake? Riders need to practice and get good at riding before going out. You wouldn’t jump on a motorcycle with no experience and expect not to have any problems, but this doesn’t mean motorcycles are inherently more dangerous just because an inexperienced biker crashes.
There are many reasons accidents could be on the rise, but simply pointing at the stats doesn’t break things down nearly enough. When skateboards were first invented, skateboard accidents went up as well. The same is true for motorcycles, cars and any other device you can name. Be sure to really look at all of the facts.
Experience is important. In one part of his paper, the writer notes that there are many videos online of people crashing, and this is absolutely true. Even some celebrities have been filmed wiping out on their boards. But should everyone be scared off by these videos? Does this mean they are too dangerous to own?
The thing to remember is that many of these videos are made when people just get the hoverboards. Someone opens a box at Christmas while another person pulls out his or her phone to film the very first attempt at riding the board. That person then tries to hop on quickly, without doing any research or training, and promptly crashes. This shouldn’t be a surprise, but the problem here isn’t the hoverboard, it’s the user. If used properly and well, hoverboards are safe.
The Link to Obesity
The writer also comments on the rising obesity epidemic in the U.S. and the sedentary lifestyle that has gotten people to this point. He is against hoverboards because they mean people are not walking around the college campus. They’re riding, instead. He thinks that will lead to more obesity, heart disease, and the like.
Again, his point is well intentioned, but there are some problems. Does he have the same issue with buses that drive all around campus, that pick students up at their dorms and drop them off at lecture halls? This is common, and it’s even less exercise than riding a hoverboard.
It’s hard to point at one activity with a problem like this. There has never been a person who was in great shape, who then bought a hoverboard and suddenly became 100 pounds overweight. Obesity is tied to many factors, like a person’s diet, a person’s genetics, and how much working out that person does. If walking to class is a student’s only exercise, and the hoverboard removes it, chances are that student was going to be in shape or overweight based on all of these other factors anyway, no matter how often a hoverboard was used.
Being Smart and Safe
Of course, it’s unfair to rip the report apart completely. The writer is correct that there are dangers to riding hoverboards. People need to be aware of them, they need to have the right gear, and they need to practice riding safely. It’s important to respect the hoverboard’s dangers and to work hard to avoid them — again, just like you’d do with a bike or anything else. It is more dangerous in some senses to ride a board than it is to walk.
It is unfair to place all of the blame for these dangers on the hoverboard. A competent rider can avoid a lot of these dangers with ease, by being talented and proficient at the skill it takes to ride. Whenever you’re looking at statistics about accidents and injuries, make sure that you take the time to consider the potential factors that could have contributed to those stats. Do not just make a general, sweeping assumption about the hoverboards themselves.