Dubai to soon announce rules for use of 'hoverboards'

Hoverboards, self-balancing electric scooters, have surged in popularity and are now selling for Dh550 (Shutterstock)

Users of self-balancing scooters (hoverboards) bear full responsibility in the event of a mishap which should not be classified as a road accident, said Major-General Mohammed Saif Al Zafin, Chairman of the Federal Traffic Council and Assistant Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police for Operations, according to a report in the Arabic daily newspaper Emarat Al Youm.

Salah Bu Farousha Al Falasi of Dubai Traffic Police said users of hoverboards run the risk of being prosecuted for using roads allocated for vehicles.

He pointed out that criminal responsibility in case of accident does not fall entirely on the regular car drivers because these self-balancing scooters can spring a surprise on them. He stressed the importance of regulating use of hoverboards.

Marwan Al Mohammed, director of safety and health management in Dubai Municipality, told Emarat Al Youm that the municipality intends to regulate use of self-balancing scooters in places where they do not pose danger to road users or people walking on pavements.

He confirmed that work is underway to develop a list of rules for using hoverboards, which will be announced within days.

A Filipino died recently when his head hit a street light pole after he fell from his scooter in the parking area of Mushrif Park in Dubai.

Maj. Gen. Al Zafin said if someone is injured after falling from a self-balancing scooter, it can be considered as negligence.

He pointed out it should not be classified as a road accident as long as it was outside the main roads.

Al Zafin added these self-balancing scooters are very dangerous and should be banned even on pedestrian paths in the parks.

He said the fall of a hoverboard user in a park cannot be considered as a road accident.

Since bicycles are not allowed to run at speeds over 60km per hour, it makes sense to ban self-balancing scooters from the roads as, unlike bicycles, they do not have any safety features, he added.

Al Zafin stressed that the scooter user bears full responsibility for whatever happens to him – whether he collides with a car or an accident happens in an enclosed area. It is negligence on the part of the hoverboard user if it is used on roads on which cars run.

He said prohibition of hoverboards from roads has been recommended to the Federal Traffic Council.

Salah bu Farousha Al Falasi, Chief Prosecutor and Head of Dubai Traffic Police's Prosecution, told Emarat Al Youm that licensing of these scooters is unlikely due to the difficulty of allocating paths for them.

He added that Dubai is keen to develop a legislative framework for all two-wheelers to ensure safety of road users.

He added the problem of recreational bikes has been largely solved. They are to be used only in specified areas, they are banned on paved roads and licences for driving them are issued.

He pointed out that there is a need to examine the legal status of self-balancing scooters in the same way since their number has grown dramatically.

He said these scooters could suddenly break down in front of a car. In that case, the driver of the car cannot bear full criminal responsibility for the accident.

He stressed that parents bear great responsibility in protecting their children and they must not succumb to the insistence of children because these self-balancing scooters could be dangerous for them.

He pointed out that it had already led to the death of an adult, and children less aware of risks than grown-up people.

Al Falasi said there is lack of space or  path for self-balancing scooters on the roads despite it being legally classified as a machine with two tyres. Criminal responsibility falls on the person riding self-balancing scooters, he added.

Marwan Al Mohammed, director of safety and health management in Dubai Municipality, told Emarat Al Youm that the municipality is finalizing a new list of rules and conditions for using these scooters.

He pointed out that the municipality has classified the scooters as an entertainment device like bicycles.

He said the new rules will be announced within days and locations like parks where they are allowed will be identified. They will be prohibited from public roads and sidewalks used by pedestrians.

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