While it might look like the perfect Christmas gift, you may need insurance and a number plate for that ‘hoverboard’

Last week a charging hoverboard nearly burnt a family home to the ground in Strathmore. This prompted the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Jane Garrett, to issue a Public Warning Notice warning consumers to look out for hoverboards and the safety incidents that could arise from chargers used to power such devices.

What is a hoverboard?

A ‘hoverboard’ is also known as a self-balancing scooter, glider or modboard. It is an electrical two wheeled ride on device with a single axle. It is controlled by subtle shifts of balance by the rider and has, in some states and territories, been legally classified as a ‘motor vehicle’.

The Public Warning Notice

The Public Warning Notice was issued by the Minister for Consumer Affairs on 5 January 2016, pursuant to section 288 of the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012.

It warns consumers against recalled brands of hoverboards because of concerns that they could “cause a fire” or “electrotute someone” due to non-compliant battery chargers. In addition it provides a link to the national recalls website http://www.recalls.gov.au/ to help consumers check their hoverboards.

Can a hoverboard be a motor vehicle?

According to the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) and the Road Safety Rules 2009 your hoverboard may be defined as a “motor vehicle”. Any hoverboard with a motor output of 200 watts or more is regarded as a motor vehicle.

While hoverboards can be used on private property, as soon as they are out on public roads, footpaths or road-related areas they will treated like any other motorbike, car or truck. Accordingly, hoverboard owners will need to meet all Victorian registration and licensing requirements. This includes the display of a vehicle number plate in accordance with the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (Vic).

Arguably, hoverboards can also be used in local parks or off-road, but this depends on the laws in place in each Local Council.

The future of hoverboards in Australia

Not only are hoverboards restricted in Victoria, they are also banned in other states and territories in Australia such as Western Australia and New South Wales. While non-compliance with the road rules result in a fine, there are also serious safety concerns regarding the use of hoverboards.

It follows that the success of the Back to the Future  devices depends not only on its legality, but also on its ability to meet minimum safety vehicle standards. 

 Disclaimer: This blog contains general information only and is not intended to be a substitute for obtaining legal advice.