Anyone thinking of buying a self-balancing scooter as a Christmas gift is being warned about their usage by the 95 Alive York and North Yorkshire Road Safety Partnership.

 The craze for self-balancing personal scooters is sweeping the country. Known as air wheels, air boards or hover boards, they have one or two wheels and are powered by electric motors. The rider either stands on footpads astride a single wheel or on a small board with wheels at either end. The scooters can travel at speeds of up to 12mph and are likely to appeal to children and adults.

 95 Alive wants to make sure anyone thinking of buying one is aware that they cannot legally be used on public roads or public footpaths.

 In law, self-balancing personal transporters such as these are considered motor vehicles, subject to road traffic laws. This means anyone using one on a public road would need it to be registered and licenced. The rider would also need a driving licence and insurance.

 However, in law these types of vehicles cannot be registered or licensed and are not covered by any driving licence category, so using them on the road is illegal. Neither can they be used on public footpaths, including those in public parks. They can be used only on private land with the owner’s permission.

 When using one on private land, the Partnership would encourage all riders to wear safety helmets and clothing, such as elbow and knee pads. For riders travelling at 12mph, coming off and hitting tarmac or concrete could cause serious injury and deep skin damage.

 Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick, Chair of the 95 Alive Road Safety Partnership, said: “These vehicles look great fun and can be bought for anything from £200 to over £1000. We want to get this message out to parents to avoid any disappointment this Christmas. If you plan to buy an air board, you need to be aware that they must not be used on the roads or paths and anyone doing so could be prosecuted by the police.

 “Many retailers are failing to make this clear to their customers. Worryingly, many adverts are actively encouraging people to use them on the road. We would advise parents to buy one only if they have access to suitable private land.”

 North Yorkshire County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Road Safety, added: “Anyone considering buying one of these vehicles should buy from a reputable retailer and check for evidence that it is fit for purpose by making sure that the motor and charger have CE approval marks and that the construction is sturdy enough to carry the person using it.”