Guest blog: Kids and car safety

By Sydney Greenberger, NCL Summer Intern

On June 20, the first day of Summer 2024, 1,086 baby onesies were placed in a display across from the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, DC, representing the number of young lives lost to hot cars since 1990 in the United States. Kids and Car Safety predicts that over 7,500 more children have survived being left in hot cars, with various injuries. Already in 2024, three young children have lost their lives; the situation is exacerbated because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has failed to issue a regulation requiring technology to be placed in new cars to stop hot car deaths despite a mandate from Congress to do so.

In 2022, Congress directed the NHSTA to issue a federal safety standard requiring new vehicles to be equipped with technology to prevent hot car deaths by November 2023. The NHTSA has delayed action until November 2024. The technology is there, and it isn’t expensive, but the NHTSA has priorities other than protecting the lives of innocent children and companion animals at risk of being forgotten in hot cars this summer.

A common misconception among parents in the U.S. is ‘this would never happen to my family; how could you ever leave your child in a car?’ However, history proves that these tragedies can happen to anyone. More than half of these accidents occur because a parent unknowingly left their child in their vehicle. It happens to parents who are absent-minded. But it also happens to the most attentive parents. Parents who are well-educated and well-off. Over the past decade, it has happened to a dentist, a social worker, a police officer, a nurse, an assistant principal, a pediatrician, and many more. Preventable hot car tragedies can happen to anyone.

On average, 38 American children die yearly from these tragedies. 88% of these victims are under three years of age. 43% of children who were unknowingly left in cars were supposed to be dropped off at their daycare. Rear-facing car seats look the same to parents whether there is a child in them or not, and if a child is asleep, it can be easy to forget they are there.

Once a child has been left in a hot vehicle, saving them from these preventable tragedies is a race against the clock. A child’s body temperature rises 3-5 times faster than an adult’s. Cracking the windows and parking in the shade do little to slow the heating process or decrease the maximum temperatures in a vehicle, and temperatures in cars rise fastest within the first 10 minutes of being parked. Hot car deaths have occurred on sunny days with temperatures as low as 60 degrees. Heatstroke starts when the body reaches a core temperature of 104 degrees, and death can occur at just 107 degrees. By the time parents realize what has happened, it is almost always too late.

Technology could have prevented most of these accidents from occurring. Most car manufacturers support rear-seat reminder systems, which are audio and visual systems that remind drivers to check the backseat after shutting off the engine and exiting the vehicle. The hot car provision passed by Congress calls for these audio and visual reminders, but advocates believe that occupant detection systems are needed to prevent hot car deaths and injuries. Occupant detection systems use motion, radar, lidar, and carbon dioxide to detect a living being inside a vehicle. These systems can distinguish between living things and inanimate objects in the back seat. The system cannot be overridden or disabled, and minimizes false alarms.

Rather than require occupant detection and alert technology that costs less than $20 per vehicle, the NHTSA has decided that a “Stop. Look. Lock.” campaign is more effective than inexpensive life-saving technology.

Until the NHTSA passes these required regulations to ensure child safety in hot cars this summer, it’s up to parents to ensure the safety of their children and pets. If you see a child left unattended in a vehicle, immediately call 911. Teach children that vehicles are not a play area, and store car keys out of reach. Have a plan that your childcare provider will call you if your child fails to show up for school. Create a “look before leaving” routine whenever you get out of the car. Many parents leave their briefcase or ID badge in the back seat, so they must check before going into the office. Others always keep a large stuffed animal in the car seat. If their child is in the car, the stuffed animal moves to the front seat, reminding parents that the child is in the back.

The most effective way to prevent hot car deaths of children and pets is through the life-saving technology that the NHTSA has failed to regulate and require. The NHTSA has left it solely to parents to ensure child and animal car safety. We should all be calling our members of Congress and urging government officials to prioritize and regulate the safety of children and pets.


Safety recommendations from

Kids and Car Safety

Kids and Car Safety Occupant Detection vs. End of Trip Reminder

From the NHTSA

32304B. Child Safety

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Press Release




NCL staff attends consumer protection brownbag

By Sally Greenberg, Chief Executive Officer, NCL

On June 25, 2024, the National Consumers League (NCL) joined the Consumer Protection Brownbag event, moderated by Adam Teitelbaum, the Director of the Office of Consumer Protection at the DC Attorney General’s Office.

I shared the history and mission of NCL and discussed our more recent successes, including NCL’s advocacy role for workers in DC receiving minimum wage through the “One Fair Wage” initiative and the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2024, which now includes automatic refunds for flight cancellations and excessive delays and the elimination of fees for parents to sit with their children. We also discussed anti-trust concerns with the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger and the ongoing lawsuit involving the DOJ and DC OAG. Moreover, I spoke about our case against Starbucks for false claims regarding ethically sourced products. Finally, I covered a range of consumer protection efforts, from fraud prevention and unit pricing enforcement to proposed alcohol labeling reforms.

Erin Witte, Director of Consumer Protection at the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), spoke about the mission of CFA and her personal journey from criminal lawyer to consumer protections advocate. She outlined CFA’s current focus areas, including tackling junk fees, combating forced arbitration clauses that limit consumers’ legal recourse, and advocating for product safety, food and alcohol regulations, investor protection, and insurance reforms. She also discussed the link between credit scores and car insurance, and how this association is one of the primary drivers of rising insurance costs. Witte highlighted CFA’s collaboration with regulatory agencies to address these pressing consumer issues.

Witte, Teitelbaum, and I responded to questions during the question and answer session about the obstacles faced by attorneys and advocates pursuing consumer protections and how the possible changes in administrative deference could affect the future of consumer protection.


NCL submits letter to CDC urging them to make flu and COVID vaccines available at same time

June 25, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin,, 202-207-2831

WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, NCL submitted comments to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) in response to their request for public comments in advance of the ACIP meeting being held June 26 – 28, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. During this meeting, ACIP will be discussing several vaccines, including but not limited to COVID-19, flu and RSV vaccines. The committee will also be voting on recommendations many of the vaccines discussed, including COVID, flu and RSV for adults.

In the comments, NCL urges that the Committee do all in its power to ensure that both flu and COVID vaccines are made available at the same time, thus allowing patients to receive both vaccinations at the same appointment. NCL also asks that ACIP review the current recommendations for the RSV vaccine, specifically the shared clinical decision-making requirement. To read NCL’s comments in full, click here.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which is composed of fifteen medical and public health experts and is charged with advising the CDC Director on the use of vaccines and the adult and childhood immunization schedules. ACIP meets regularly to review data, studies and proposals for vaccines, and as needed for emergency cases. Meetings are open to the public, and since COVID they have been streamed online. The June 26 – 28 meeting will be streamed online, via YouTube and is available to watch here.


About the National Consumers League (NCL)

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization.  Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad.  For more information, visit

Patients can’t afford Congress delaying PBM reform another year

By Robin Strongin, Senior Director of Health Policy

As the 2024 political campaigns intensify, we’re going to be hearing a lot from candidates about what they’re going to do to make healthcare more affordable. The problem is, we’re dealing with high out-of-pocket costs right now and we shouldn’t have to wait until after another election for something to be done about them, especially when the current Congress has solutions today.

As I navigate my husband’s care through his battle with Lewy body dementia and speak to other patients and their loved ones, I have become all too familiar with the practices certain players in our healthcare system use to boost their already extraordinary profits at our expense. Pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, are a prime example of this and we urgently need legislation to rein in their actions that are affecting both the costs we pay for care and access to the medicines our families need.

Several committees in both the U.S. House and Senate have been working on PBM reform legislation for months and there are multiple bills that could be passed now and sent to President Biden for his signature. With the time they will be taking off for campaigning, lawmakers have very few days left that they will be in Washington, D.C. this year. It would be all too easy for them to kick this can down the road and let the next Congress deal with it.

We need to raise our voices to demand that they don’t pass on this opportunity to make a difference.

There are two elements of PBM reform that could have an immediate impact on costs and prescription drug accessibility that Congress should pass without hesitation:

  • Disconnect PBM profits from drug prices. Right now, PBMs generate revenues from the rebates they demand from drug manufacturers. The higher the drug costs, the more they make in rebates and, consequently, they steer patients to medicines that cost more and block access to lower-priced generics and biosimilars. Enough is enough. Pass legislation that will have PBMs paid a flat fee for their services and remove the perverse incentives that are forcing patients to pay more and that place financial interests between patients and their healthcare providers.
  • Mandate that the PBMs pass along those negotiated rebates and discounts to consumers. Currently, these middlemen are moving those dollars into their own pockets. These savings should be going to patients at the pharmacy counter. It’s just common sense.

These are urgent issues that affect the lives and pocketbooks of millions of Americans. Yes, it’s great that politicians are making promises about how they will fix healthcare costs next year, but we need action now. Congress must pass PBM reform legislation before they adjourn this year.