The federal government says scooters are the most dangerous toys this holiday season, but the toy industry says not all scooters are created equal.

The Toy Association, a nonprofit trade group, says the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s annual report on “toy-related deaths and injuries” mistakenly includes unregulated scooters as toys in its claim that 41 700 injuries were treated in emergency rooms last year due to “non-motorized scooters.”

“Given the narrow scope of scooters that are considered ‘toys’, we understand that most incidents cited in the scooter data do not involve the type of products covered by toy safety standards”, said Alan P. Kaufman, senior vice president. technical affairs for the Toy Association.

Mr Kaufman, who specializes in toy safety standards for the industry, says the federal government only recognizes as “toys” a small number of scooters with three or more wheels that he recommends for children under 5 years old.

No other scooters are considered “toys” under the US Toy Safety Standard, especially electric scooters that teenagers and young adults often use as alternative transportation.

“I think a lot of products are colloquially called ‘toys’ when they really fall outside the scope of toy regulations,” Kaufman said.

The mandatory toy safety standard, known in federal regulations as ASTM F963, has been in effect since the 1970s and includes requirements for the limited line of scooters recommended for preschoolers.

Among the most restrictive in the world, the toy standard contains over 100 consumer safety tests for mechanical, chemical, electrical and flammability hazards.

But the Safety Commission regulates the labeling and instructional materials of most scooters as transportation — not toys — under two additional standards: ASTM F2641 covers electric scooters for riders age 8 and older, and ASTM F2264 covers non-electric scooters for riders 5 years and older.

Nikki Fleming, spokesperson for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, highlighted the danger of scooters, but would not say which models and brands the toy injury data covered.

“If you choose a non-motorized scooter or other riding toy like a bicycle or skateboard as a holiday gift, get safety gear, including helmets, for scooters and other riding toys – and make sure the kids use them every time,” Ms Fleming said.

In a Nov. 18 news release on holiday toy safety, the commission said scooters accounted for the highest percentage of toy-related injuries in 2020.

“Non-motorized scooters account for 21% of all toy-related injuries treated in emergency departments,” the commission said in the statement, referring to 41,700 injuries out of a total of 198,000 last year.

The 41,700 injuries represent a 17% increase from the 35,600 scooter injuries in the previous year, continuing a trend, the commission noted.

These figures come from the September ‘Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries’ report, which ranked ‘toy balls’ as the second most dangerous toy, with 15,300 injuries treated in emergency rooms last year.

Only 5,300 of the 41,700 non-motorized scooter injuries in 2020 involved children 4 and under, according to the report. The remainder consisted of 28,900 injuries to children aged 5 to 12, 2,300 injuries to children aged 13 and 14, and 5,200 injuries aged 15 and over.

This means that 87% of “toy-related injuries” could not have come from young children playing with scooters regulated by federal toy standards, but the safety commission’s annual report does not break down injuries by type of scooter. .

“If they’re saying toy-related injuries are increasing because of scooters, then that’s where we have a problem,” said Mr Kaufman, the industry safety standards expert.

He said government estimates of toy-related injuries came from emergency services coding any injury “related” but not necessarily caused by scooters.

“For example, if a child leaves a toy on the stairs and trips over it, that’s a toy-related injury in CPSC data,” Kaufman said.

Some of the confusion over what counts as a “toy scooter” stems from the growing variety of electric and non-motorized scooters.

Companies now make scooters for all age groups, ranging from three-wheeled preschool toys to non-motorized and electric scooters for older children and adults.

Predicted to surpass $33.5 billion in market value by 2030, electric scooters have become popular among urban teens and young adults, who view them as greener than cars and more maneuverable than bicycles.

A spokesperson for Bird, which operates shared electric scooters in more than 350 cities around the world, provided links to company policies that clearly state that its heavy scooters are only recommended for ages 18 and older. .

Radio Flyer and Razor marketed unpowered scooters and less powerful electric scooters as transportation for teenagers and young adults, creating a growing market for more basic models among children of all ages.

According to an August report by toy industry market researcher The NPD Group, “outdoor and sports toys” – which include skates, skateboards and scooters – sold better than any other toy category, with $2.9 billion in revenue in the first half of this year. .

Reached by phone Monday, a spokesperson for Razor would not comment on the possibility of some of its children’s scooters being included in the toy injury report. Radio Flyer did not respond to an email and phone call seeking comment.

Some toy safety watchdogs have warned about the popularity of kick scooters.

The non-profit organization World Against Toys Causing Harm Inc. warned toy buyers in a Nov. 17 press release “to beware of certain rolling toys that may cause injury to the head or other impact”.

“Wheeled toys, traditional non-motorized scooters, have been associated for another consecutive year with the highest number of toy-related injuries,” the statement said, referencing the safety commission report.

Mr Kaufman, the toy industry safety expert, said the number of toy-related injuries will fall when the government modernizes its reporting system to clarify that most scooters marketed to children are means of transportation rather than toys.

“I am not criticizing CPSC information. It’s the best system in the world,” he said. “But like any data collection exercise, I think it’s prone to mistakes along the way.”