50 years of safety

The Center for Auto Safety

Our Mission

The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

Our Team

Michael Brooks, Executive Director

Michael Brooks is the Executive Director for the Center for Auto Safety and previously served as the Center’s Chief Counsel and Chief Operations Officer. He joined the Center in 2000, supporting the Center’s regulatory, legislative and legal programs as a staff attorney under the wing of the Center’s longtime director Clarence Ditlow. Michael’s work is primarily focused on vehicle safety and advocacy activities, including litigation, federal crash data and safety research, rulemakings, press, and Freedom of Information efforts.

Michael is a graduate of the George Washington University Law School and Millsaps College.

Fred Perkins, Chief Engineer

The Center for Auto Safety is delighted to announce Fred Perkins—an expert with more than 30 years of engineering experience—as Chief Engineer. In this role, Fred will be providing the team with key technical insights into the world of automotive safety, particularly in the realm of autonomous vehicles as this technology continues to expand and develop.

Immediately prior to joining the Center, Mr. Perkins was employed for 13 years at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), at the U.S. Department of Defense, where he served as a Quality, Safety, and Mission Assurance Lead for a major missile program. In this role, Fred performed crucial evaluations of our nation’s defense system and led a task force that defined and implemented quality surveillance requirements, practices, and required resources. Before working at the MDA, Fred’s career stops included: LASER interferometric measurement technology Sales Representative at Steinbichler GmbH; Finite Element Analysis Account Manager at Mallett Technology; Entrepreneur at Standard Space Platforms Corporation; Government Relations Specialist at United Technologies; and Engineering Specialist at Kaman Aerospace.

Over the course of his career, Fred has been the recipient of many notable honors. In 2018, he was awarded by the Missile Defense Agency for managing the definition and implementation of an international supplier surveillance system. In 2016, he received the Program Executive Award for outstanding support for the Internal Controls Program. Mr. Perkins was chosen as a speaker at the June 2010 Navy Technology Showcase, and in 1993 he was invited to speak at two NASA conferences. In 1992, Mr. Perkins was appointed to the Vice President’s Space Policy Advisory Board by President George H. W. Bush In addition, Mr. Perkins is a certified expert in manufacturing, production, and quality assurance who has received U.S. patents for spacecraft technology.

Mr. Perkins graduated with from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1976 with a B.S. in Physics. In 1978, he completed his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In his spare time, he can be found developing applications for embedded digital controllers, spoiling his grandchildren, and enjoying nature.

Nicole Guilfoyle, Membership Manager

Nicole joined the Center for Auto Safety in January 2020 in the role of Membership Manager. She mainly oversees membership activities, handles incoming donations, and is responsible for many of the Center’s administrative duties. Prior to working with the Center for Auto Safety, Nicole has had roles with an accreditation agency, a trade association, and other non-profit advocacy organizations. She graduated Guilford College with a BA in political science, and was in the Pi Sigma Alpha Society during this time.

As a five-year DC resident, Nicole loves to volunteer with community organizations, and looks forward to both the cherry blossoms in the spring, and bright yellow ginko leaves in the fall every year. When she is not working, Nicole loves to climb, cook, draw, and hang out with her friends (and their pets).


Today, the Center continues our vital role as the nation’s most effective watchdog working to protect consumers by representing their interests before the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as other relevant federal agencies. No matter which party controls the White House, the Center pushes for smart and effective safety regulations, and active and tough law enforcement by state and federal authorities. Over the course of the Center’s history, we have provided testimony over 50 times to Congress and state legislatures across the country on topics including salvaged vehicles, child passenger safety, warranty law, and autonomous vehicle development.

The Center serves as a vital resource for consumers who have been stuck with a “lemon” of a car by providing the nation’s most looked to and regularly updated and complete database of lemon laws and warranty rights across the United States. The Center also provides a non-governmental, advertisement-free, location for car owners to submit and search vehicle safety complaints. These complaints often lead to the Center spearheading recall campaigns on behalf of impacted consumers. The Center also provides an easily searchable and free unique database for consumers to search for information about their own car, including whether there are any open recalls, service alerts, investigations, or complaints.


As the automotive industry moves towards a high-tech future, the electric and autonomous vehicle markets will continue to grow. The Center for Auto Safety will continue to advocate for government regulations that put the safety of people using and sharing the road with driverless vehicles above the purely monetary interests of shareholders. We will continue to support fuel economy standards that help save consumers money and improve the environment. We will also work to remind the auto industry and regulators focus on the safety of those of using the 270 million cars on the road today, instead of only thinking about a potentially driverless tomorrow.

Over the last 5 decades, the Center has led the fight to:

  • Enact lemon laws in every state, and the District of Columbia, that make it easy to return a defective car;
  • Expose vehicles with unsafe fuel systems that have burned to death over 1,000 people who would otherwise have survived the trauma of the crash;
  • Enact State laws to force disclosure of secret warranties on cars that can save consumers billions of dollars each year;
  • Strengthen safety and highway standards that have dropped the death rate on America’s road from 5.2 per 100 million vehicles mile traveled in 1969 to under 1.2;
  • Save vital consumer, safety and environmental laws under assault by industry by taking legal action against government agencies;
  • And prevent the sale of unsafe used vehicles and parts that are subject to safety recalls.

Major Recalls where the Center played a key role: 

  • 1971: Recall of 6.7 million Chevrolets for defective engine mounts.
  • 1978: Recall of 1.5 million Ford Pintos for exploding gas tanks.
  • 1990: Recall of 3.7 million Evenflo child seats for defective latches.
  • 2000: Recall of 23 million Firestone tires
  • 2012-2015: Recall of 7 million Toyotas for sudden acceleration.
  • 2013: Recall of 1.5 million Jeeps for fuel tanks prone to fires.
  • 2014: Recall of 29 million GM vehicles for defective ignition switches.
  • 2015: Recall of 60 million exploding Takata airbag inflators.
  • 2018: Recall of all 2017-2018 Chrysler Pacifica Minivans for stalling.
  • 2019-20: Recall of over 2 million Hyundai and Kia for non-crash fire risk

Safety and Consumer Protection improvements where the Center played a key role in Rules being written or changed:

  • “Lemon Laws” - in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia).
  • Recall Repairs – made at no charge to consumers
  • Requiring Seat Belts (and improved specifications for later models)
  • Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act – providing consumers warranty protection
  • Airbags - in every car & improved specifications for later models
  • Improved safety inside vehicle during side impact crashes
  • Upgraded rear impact and fuel integrity standards to reduce likelihood of crash impact
  • Stronger Passenger Vehicle Roofs - saving lives during rollovers
  • Improved Window Glazing – reducing ejection during rollovers
  • Requiring Electronic Stability Control – reducing likelihood of rollovers and crashes
  • Power Window switch standardization - to prevent strangulation, particularly for children
  • Emergency exits on School Buses
  • Upgrading child safety latches for child seats
  • Corporate Fuel Economy Standards—Improving fuel economy and the environment
  • Ending the practice of “secret warranties”
  • Requiring Technical Service Bulletin be disclosed on NHTSA website

More information:

Clarence M. Ditlow, III

For 40 years, the Center was led by Clarence Ditlow, a well-known safety champion on behalf of consumers, who passed away in 2016. Clarence’s tireless advocacy had a profound impact on automotive safety, and his actions saved countless thousands of lives. Learn more about Clarence’s legacy.

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