By Consumer Reports
Join with us to make a safer, fairer, healthier marketplace.
Making Electric Bike Batteries Safer
E-bike sales have boomed since the pandemic hit, as many consumers look to spend more time outdoors and to avoid public transit. Unfortunately, safety standards have lagged.
CR’s December 2022 investigation, "‘Fire! Fire! Fire!’ The Perplexing, Deadly Electric Bike Problem," found that little has been done to protect consumers after a rash of deadly fires around the U.S. were tied to lithium-ion and other types of high-energy-density electric bike batteries.
Most such incidents appear to be connected to cheap, poorly made batteries, which remain on the market because of two overlapping regulatory problems: 1) The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the federal agency charged with overseeing some 15,000 product categories (including e-bikes), lacks the resources and power to carry out its mandate effectively; and 2) there’s a loophole that allows many products worth less than $800 coming from overseas—including cheap e-bikes and e-bike components—to enter the U.S. without safety screenings by border agents.
CR’s investigation caught the attention of CPSC Commissioner Mary T. Boyle, who released a statement echoing CR’s conclusions and calling for urgent action. Later in December, the agency called on more than 2,000 manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers to comply with voluntary safety standards for battery-powered products or face possible enforcement action.
CR will monitor industry response and continue urging policymakers to give the CPSC the authority and funding it needs to protect consumers. Meanwhile, learn how to prevent an e-bike fire.
Preventing Auto Crashes
What’s at Stake
As the popularity and size of pickup trucks and SUVs have grown, so too has a deadly safety problem: the huge blind zones in front of these vehicles, where drivers are unable to spot children and other pedestrians. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says these "frontovers," where slow-moving vehicles strike pedestrians the drivers didn’t see, caused an average of more than 14,000 injuries and more than 380 deaths per year between 2016 and 2020. Most victims were 6 or younger.
What CR Is Doing About It
CR has been drawing attention to frontovers. A recent CR evaluation showed that full-sized pickup trucks—the most popular autos on the market—can have blind zones 11 feet longer than a car’s and 7 feet longer than an SUV’s. And a recent NBC News video report featuring CR car safety experts and filmed at our auto test facility vividly demonstrated the problem by showing a row of 10 children in front of a popular pickup truck—and the driver wasn’t able to see any of them. A separate CR study found that pickups are less likely than cars and SUVs to have standard safety features, such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, which could prevent frontovers.
CR wants automakers to address the problem. In October, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal introduced a CR-endorsed bill that would order NHTSA to require that vehicles be equipped with technology to improve visibility and avert frontover incidents.
What You Can Do
Sign our petition urging carmakers to fix front-end blind zones!
Call to Action
Buy now, pay later loans, which typically let you pay for purchases in bi-weekly installments, are a convenient way to ease short-term budget problems—but can also hit consumers with unexpected interest charges, late fees, credit score hits, and a range of hassles related to returns and disputed charges, a recent CR analysis found. We’re now calling on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to put into place strong measures to ensure that consumers are treated fairly. Add your voice by signing our petition.
Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the March 2023 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
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