Clarence Ditlow, a tireless consumer advocate who spent his entire life trying to protect the public by making cars safer, has died at the age of 72.
Ditlow made a career out of advancing safety regulations for passenger vehicles as well as exposing and calling attention to safety defects in automobiles. He served as the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety since 1976. The organization is a watchdog group founded by Consumers Union and Ralph Nader in 1970.
“His accomplishments included safety recalls of tens of millions of vehicles that saved untold thousands of lives, and lemon laws in all 50 states. Since the center was founded in 1970, the death rate on America’s roads has dropped dramatically, from 5.2 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 1969 to 1.1 per 100 million vehicle miles in 2010. Ralph Nader and Consumers Union established the Center to provide consumers a voice for auto safety and quality in Washington and to help owners of “lemon” vehicles fight back across the country,” the Center for Auto Safety said in a statement today. The Center played a major role in major recalls, among others: 6.7 million Chevrolets for defective engine mounts, 15 million Firestone 500 tires, 1.5 million Ford Pintos for exploding gas tanks, and 3 million Evenflo child seats for defective latches.
Ditlow and other representatives of the Center for Auto Safety testified over than 50 times in front of congress regarding warranties and service bulletins, auto safety, fuel economy, consumer protection and air pollution.
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While Ditlow spent much of his career fighting large automotive corporations on consumer safety issues, he spent just as much of his career criticizing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s oversight of the automotive industry as a whole. Ditlow was a consumer advocate at every turn and never felt that a dollar saved or spent should be prioritized over consumer safety.
The attorneys at Cory Watson share the same values as the late Clarence Ditlow when it comes to consumer safety and holding the government and automotive corporations accountable for the safety of the public.
By Curt Tanner, Attorney