Burn Rubber

When I was a kid, we used to bike everywhere – to friends’ houses, to the park, and to Gordy’s grocery store on sample day to get free Pepsi. When my kids were little, though, they used scooters almost more than their bikes.

They each had Razor scooters, which were essentially skateboards with handlebars. They also had Razor RipStiks, which were hourglass-shaped skateboards that generated momentum from their rider shifting their hips back and forth. I never understood the appeal of these devices. Mostly because my balance is terrible and I nearly killed myself on multiple occasions trying to use them.

Electric scooters, however, sound appealing to me. You just hop on and let the motor do the work, so I can focus on steering and my balance without having to worry about propelling myself. But it turns out that electric scooters just might kill me, too.

Last month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an urgent warning to stop using scooters which are sold under the brand name “Zoozand Toos” in Toos Urban Ride stores in New York and online. The precautionary notice came in response to an apartment fire in New York City in April caused by the scooter. Tragically, the blaze killed two people, including a 7-year-old.

Fire officials determined the fire was sparked by a lithium-ion battery in the Toos Elite 60-volt scooter. The CPSC indicated the battery had not been certified by an accredited laboratory to the applicable UL Solutions safety standard. According to its website, UL Solutions certifies products that have been tested to applicable standards, lending critical credibility to authorities and the marketplace.

The organization has issued a public notice concerning 48-volt battery chargers, as they bear unauthorized UL certification marks. Despite having a 60-volt battery, the scooter that caused the fire was being charged by a 48-volt charger, which was also sold by Toos.

The CPSC stressed that its warning did not represent a proper recall of the potentially hazardous scooters. According to the Commission, a recall would need to be issued by the company itself, but Toos Urban Ride “has refused to conduct an acceptable recall with CPSC.”

Toos Urban Ride disagrees with the Commission’s warning and claims that the use of the wrong voltage charger, 48-volts rather than 60-volts, was the cause of the fire. The company asserts that the CPSC technical staff evaluated a Toos 60-volt scooter and “did not identify any apparent defects with the exemplar sample.”

The scooter manufacturer claims the CPSC rejected its offer to conduct a free safety inspection to check the scooter battery voltage and examine the scooter’s wiring and check for physical and water damage and make any necessary repairs.

The CPSC’s warning comes less than a week after it reported another yearly surge in injuries from e-scooters, hoverboards and e-bikes, with at least 233 deaths tied to the products from 2017 through 2022. The agency has announced multiple recalls related to these products, including one earlier this fall by Future Motion, the maker of Onewheel electric skateboards, after four deaths related to the boards.

As a result, the CPSC urges consumers to only use micromobility products that have been designed, manufactured, and certified for compliance with the applicable consensus safety standards. Users should never charge the batteries unattended or while sleeping, and only use the product’s supplied charger. Lithium batteries should never be thrown into the trash or general recycling, but instead be taken to the local battery recycler or hazardous waste collection center.

I think I’ll stick with my bike.

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Reg P. Wydeven

Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney at McCarty Law LLP
Hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps from a young age, Reg’s practice primarily consists of advising individuals on estate planning, estate settlement and elder law matters. As Reg represents clients in matters like guardianship proceedings and long-term care admissions, he feels grateful to be able to offer families thorough legal help in their time of need.

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