A tractor trailer truck with 'caution' tape.
Illustration: John Ritter

Calling for Safer Trucks

What's at stake: When cars collide with big-rig trucks, they can become violently wedged beneath the larger vehicle—a phenomenon known as an "underride." Though these collisions cause catastrophic damage to cars, they often fail to trigger standard safety features such as airbags—and, as a result, all too often lead to horrific deaths and debilitating injuries.

So-called underride guards for trucks are a low-tech upgrade that can prevent some of the worst carnage. These bumpers hang from tractor trailers, preventing cars from sliding underneath during a collision. Many trucks already have rear-facing underride guards, but safety advocates say the standards requiring them are not strong enough, and that side and front guards are necessary as well.

How CR has your back: CR has long advocated for underride guards. In our August 2018 issue of the magazine, we reported on new technologies and policies aimed at reducing the risks of big rigs, and offered consumer advice for driving safely on the roads with trucks.

Now we're endorsing a bill that would require underride guards on the sides and front of all large trucks. The bipartisan Stop Underrides Act would also update the outdated standards for rear-facing underride guards.

David Friedman, CR's vice president of advocacy, says: "The technology is there—what's missing is the will to put it to work. Passing this bill can change that."

What you can do: Contact your congressional representatives and ask them to co-sponsor the Stop Underrides Act. And learn more about truck safety by reading our report, "How to Steer Clear of Truck Danger."

Keeping Your Info Private

What's at stake: A growing number of employers (including CR) are launching wellness programs to help workers lose weight, quit smoking, or otherwise improve their health. Wellness programs are promoted to employers as a way to lower their overall healthcare costs, which is one reason they often encourage employee participation with incentives like gift cards and health insurance discounts.

more on medical privacy

Many workers don't realize that the health information they reveal through these programs—including their medical history; body mass index; pregnancy status; and smoking, drinking, eating, and exercise habits—may be inadequately protected. In some cases, researchers have found, the information can end up in the hands of employers and insurance companies, and can even be sold to third parties. Making matters worse, it's unclear whether wellness programs even deliver on their health promises.

How CR has your back: CR is sponsoring a bill in the California Assembly, AB 648, which would improve privacy protections for people enrolled in wellness programs. Our advocates have met with state lawmakers and testified in support of the legislation. The bill has passed two committees with bipartisan support, and a third vote is slated for May. CR is also working with state legislators outside of California to develop and introduce similar bills in other states.

(CR's own wellness program is in line with the policies for which we advocate.)

What you can do: We want to hear about your experience—whether, for example, you've felt pressured to participate in your company's program. Share your story by going to our report, "Are Workplace Wellness Programs a Privacy Problem?"

Protecting an Open Internet

What's at stake: Net neutrality is the idea that all information should flow freely over the internet on equal terms. Since the Federal Communications Commission repealed its 2015 net neutrality rules in 2017, there has been a push in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress to restore protections that prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking, slowing, or giving preferential treatment to any web content.

The House of Representatives recently passed the Save the Internet Act, which would codify net neutrality rules into law and prevent the FCC from reclassifying broadband in the future to weaken the standards. And it would restore the FCC's power to prevent future anti-competitive behavior by ISPs.

How CR has your back: CR is a strong supporter of this legislation and has worked to reinstate net neutrality protections since 2017. Our advocates were at the Capitol when the bill was introduced and met with lawmakers to encourage them to pass it. Plus, almost 40,000 CR members emailed their representatives in support of the bill.

The legislation is now in the Senate, where it's likely to face opposition. But last year the Senate passed a similar resolution to reverse the FCC's repeal with bipartisan support. (That time, the effort stalled in the House.) We think now should be no different, and are calling on lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to back the bill.

What you can do: To tell your senators to restore net neutrality protections, add your name to our online petition.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the July 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.