Safety. Are electric skateboard companies asking the right questions?

Jed Boards are committed to promoting the safety of electric skateboard riders, which is why they’ve hired my firm, Risk Facilitator, to help them achieve their goal.

We’re helping Jed Boards to profile the risk of their product and the effectiveness of their controls - but also to start a broader conversation about creating a safe electric skateboard industry, from the very start.

Why is safety important for the electric skateboard industry?

Electric skateboards offer huge lifestyle benefits to riders and can turn daily commuting into an exciting experience. More importantly, this low-carbon transportation method offers potentially huge environmental benefits to cities around the planet.

However, personal mobility devices (PMDs) carry inherent dangers in terms of the risk of personal injury. Accidents caused by misinformation or poor training could cause unnecessary injury to riders or the public - and damage the reputation of the eSk8 industry.

How can we improve safety in the electric skateboard industry?

Jeremy and I believe that for riders, manufacturers, and cities around the world to enjoy the huge benefits that electric skateboards offer, it’s important to start a cross-manufacturer conversation that asks important questions about safety and how we can all set high standards, together. And we need to do this quickly.

I’m a professional risk advisor and have spent over 20 years studying risk management and implementing risk frameworks, programs and systems into industries ranging from event management and education, to TV and film, aviation, extreme adventure, and defence.

I’ve authored risk management graduate courses, produced research papers and reports, and lectured for a number of government and industry bodies. 

I’ve also produced TV shows including ‘The Amazing Race’, which won multiple Emmy Awards. I acted as a risk advisor for the TV show ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ - and spent 2 months in the South African jungle, trying to ensure that their crew of over 400 people and a few celebrities came back in one piece.

Why should people take risks?

I’m passionate about the value of taking risks - in a world that often prefers we don’t.

Without risk-taking, we would stop the continuous improvement cycle that drives success and rewards people who dream big!

However, achieving big dreams isn’t as simple as just doing crazy sh*t and hoping we don’t die! It’s only by taking risks while using due diligence, a structured plan, and some common sense (which isn’t that common!) that we enjoy a greater chance of success.

And I love to esk8!

What’s the risk to the electric skateboard industry if they fail to agree common safety standards?

I want the electric skateboard and wider PMD industry to be sustainable - for both my own enjoyment and for others too.

It would be a great shame if PMDs became over-regulated, or even banned, because of an industry failure to join forces and set common standards and best practice protocols. 

We must ensure that product quality and safety practices are consistently at a standard that is proportionate to the risk exposure that end-users (riders) face.

PMDs like electric skateboards have inherent dangers, which vary, depending on:

  • The type of PMD and its capabilities.
  • Which activities it’s being used for.
  • The user’s level of training and awareness of potential dangers.
  • How effective the PMD’s controls and safety mechanisms are.

It’s taken car manufacturers over 100 years to develop sufficiently effective controls to be considered generally acceptable by society.

I think PMDs like electric skateboards are the future of transportation. 

  • However, we don’t have 100 years to get it right, this time around.
  • Fortunately, I think we have the technological capability to get it right today.

The electric skateboard industry needs to collaborate and ask these questions:

  • Does every manufacturer have a quality assurance program that has been developed in consultation with both the industry and consumers?
  • Do we know how, when and why electric skateboard users injure themselves?
  • Are we developing products that reduce the consequence or likelihood of injury?
  • Are we educating consumers on the inherent risks of PMDs and ensuring - to a reasonable extent - that they’re informed and equipped to reduce the risk of injury occurrence?
  • Are we as an industry group working with regulators to ensure safety, compliance and sustainability?

Finally, to you the consumer.

  • Do you really accept the consequence of using your electric skateboard?
  • Or do you find it easier to think, ‘That won't happen to me’?

Let me assure you that using any PMD involves inherent risks.

You are likely to come off your electric skateboard and injure yourself at some point - although the degree of injury depends on both your actions and the manufacturer’s safety standards.

But by using intelligent risk management across the industry - from riders through to manufacturers - we can ensure that the joy, satisfaction and environmental benefits of electric skateboards vastly outweigh any injuries we pick up along the way.