We will ensure that innovation and consumer safety go hand in hand.
In the COVID-19 era, we are sharply reminded that public health and safety are the foundation of a functioning society, and both government and the private sector have critical roles to play. We can provide clear and accessible information to help consumers manage day-to-day risks; call out price-gouging, deception, and scams involving products and services; and advocate to ensure that our food supply remains safe. As we mourn the loss of tens of thousands of Americans to the coronavirus, we must also act on the highly preventable deaths and injuries generated by failures in the marketplace each year, and, in particular, ensure that our homes are truly a safe haven for all ages.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data preceding the COVID-19 pandemic showed unintentional injuries as the third leading cause of death in the U.S., following only heart disease and cancer, and a top cause of death for those under 45. In recent years, car crashes have accounted for at least 36,000 deaths and 2.7 million injuries per year, while incidents involving consumer products are tied to at least 8,000 deaths and 15.5 million emergency room visits per year. Foodborne illnesses leave 3,000 people dead, 128,000 hospitalized, and 48 million people sick each year.
Consumers often bear the burden of protecting themselves and paying the hidden economic costs of marketplace harm. Many companies see safety as a cost driver or as an opportunity to charge a premium for new features. Weak government oversight and the underfunding of key agencies undermine legal protections, which are opposed by a well-resourced industry. Legal redress for consumers is slow and costly, and frequently hides risks from public view.
Safety has been a hallmark of CR’s work for decades: We bring the capacity to lead on multiple issues while leveraging the reach and political diversity of our members. With these strengths in mind, CR will establish a new standard for safety across the marketplaces for transportation, home products, and food through strong mandatory rules and voluntary standards, partnerships, consumer demand (including our ratings), and public pressure. We will also work to strengthen the nation’s core safety agencies, with a legislative focus on reforming the Consumer Product Safety Commission. And we will ensure that innovation and consumer safety go hand in hand.
How will we know if we succeeded?
- Strong minimum safety standards prevent and reduce consumer harms.
- Consumers can buy safe products with confidence.
- Companies are held accountable for the safety of their products and services.