Statement of Center for Auto Safety on Clarence M. Ditlow III

Statement of Center for Auto Safety on Clarence M. Ditlow III

November, 2016

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

I am beyond sad to pass along this announcement of a tragic loss for humanity.  Clarence’s long, hard and great work for safety for more more than 4 decades made us all safer.

November 11, 2016

Clarence M. Ditlow, III, the Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety since 1976, died on November 10 at the George Washington University Hospital in Washington. He was 72 years old.

Spanning four decades, his work forced the auto industry to make vast improvements in the safety, reliability and fuel efficiency of the vehicles on which Americans depend daily.

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.

Under Mr. Ditlow, the Center played a major role in these 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.

In the past seven years alone, the Center was the primary force behind the recalls of 7 million Toyotas for sudden acceleration, 2 million Jeeps for fuel tank fires, 11 million GM vehicles for defective ignition switches, and more than 60 million faulty Takata airbag inflators.”

Time magazine’s cover of October 17, 2016 has a centuries old quote of wisdom and insight: “Whoever saves one life, saves all of humanity”.

Clarence’s work has saved and continues to save countless lives.
See tribute to this safety leader with video at
Lou Lombardo


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