California cracks down on hoverboards with new safety restrictions

The Danger of Hoverboards
The Danger of Hoverboards

California is imposing new safety restrictions on "hoverboards," the (literally) hottest tech toy of the season.

The new law, which went into effect Jan. 1, requires those riding one of the devices on public roadways to stick to roads with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less, wear a helmet, stay in the bike lane and not to go faster than 15 miles per hour. No one under 16 may use the boards on public roadways.

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The California Highway Patrol will enforce the laws for the next five years, and violators could face a fine of $250. The concern, officials say, is one of safety.

"They have to be not looking out for themselves, but also looking out for cars that are out there," Chris Cochran, with the California Office of Traffic Safety, told NBC News. "And they have to look out for pedestrians."

Cochran also warned that local ordinances could further restrict the use of the devices. For example, in San Francisco the devices are not allowed on sidewalks.

See also: Russell Crowe is not at all cool with airline's hoverboard ban

"The state law allows it to be on local roadways, but your local city or county may restrict which roadways or type of roadways," he said.

Cities and states are hurrying to address the explosive popularity of the devices, which are also getting attention for being explosive.

A handful of incidents have caused serious concerns: The lithium-ion batteries in the boards have lead most airlines to ban them in both checked and carry-on luggage.

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