Nader made American car buyers demand safer, cleaner vehicles

Here’s something I never thought I’d say: Ralph Nader is fascinating to speak with, and I admire and respect his contribution to the auto industry.

That’s an about-face for me. When I discovered cars in the early 1970s, Nader was the enemy.

Nader’s the one who really opened the door to government oversight of the automobile industry with his landmark 1965 book, Unsafe at Any Speed, and his testimony before Congress the following year that helped lead to the creation of the agency that morphed into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Unsafe At Any Speed – Fiftieth Anniversary (1965-2015)

November 30, 2015, marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Ralph Nader’s landmark book Unsafe at Any Speed. The book focused on the faulty rear suspension system of the General Motors Corvair, This defect could cause the Corvair to skid violently and roll over. The corporate negligence that had produced the various Corvair defects, Nader said, was “one of the greatest acts of industrial irresponsibility.” More generally, Unsafe at Any Speed documented how Detroit habitually subordinated safety to style and marketing concerns.

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