Clarence M. Ditlow, III Legacy Center


On November 10, 2016, Clarence Ditlow—a singular figure in auto safety and consumer protection, and the heart and soul of the Center for Auto Safety for 40 years—passed away. “From the beginning, Clarence was a skilled advocate,” said Joan Claybrook, a former Administrator of NHTSA, who hired Clarence to work on auto safety for the Public Interest Research Group in 1971. The L.A. Times called him “a tireless watchdog,” who “called out federal regulators whom he accused of bowing to business executives and lobbyists seeking to weaken safety rules or sidestep costly repairs to defective vehicles.” Over the course of his life, Clarence’s work on behalf of the public saved the lives of tens of thousands of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians and helped prevent millions of injuries. The Center is constantly working to take on the auto industry and the government in order to live up to Clarence’s legacy. 

“You could hardly have imagined a more perfect blend of knowledge, compassion, persistence, resilience, extraordinary strategic and communication abilities and factual diligence as was embodied in such an amiable man. He was a civic personality par excellence who never wavered in his many fights with wayward corporate adversaries.” —Ralph Nader

“Mr. Ditlow, [was] widely regarded as America’s foremost advocate for automotive safety. [He] championed seatbelts, airbags, electronics to avert crashes and campaigns to force the recall of millions of dangerously flawed motor vehicles.”—The New York Times

More tributes to Clarence:

Center for Auto Safety Executive Director Clarence Ditlow DiesAutoblog

Ditlow Shaped Safety Laws — With a GrinAutomotive News

Clarence Ditlow Remembered for His TenacityAutomotive News

Clarence Ditlow, longtime auto safety crusader, dead at 72Automotive News

Auto Safety Crusader Clarence Ditlow DiesConsumer Affairs

Clarence Ditlow, a Passionate Advocate for Car Safety, DiesConsumer Reports

Auto Safety Advocate Clarence Ditlow Dies at 72The Detroit News

The Loss of a Consumer ChampionFair Warning

Outspoken Champion For Automotive Safety Clarence Ditlow Dies At 72Jalopnik

Recognizing Clarence Ditlow’s Contributions to Americans’ Automotive SafetyLegal Reader

Clarence Ditlow, auto safety watchdog and pioneer, dies at 72The Los Angeles Times

Clarence M. Ditlow III, Auto Safety Crusader, Dies at 72The New York Times

The Guardian Angel for America’s Motorist, Ralph Nader

Remembering a watchdog of the auto

Senate Tribute to Clarence M. Ditlow, III, Sen. Ed Markey & Sen. Richard Blumenthal

Tireless auto safety advocate Clarence Ditlow diesUSA Today

Consumers and Environment Lose a Dauntless Champion, Clarence Ditlow III, US PIRG

Clarence Ditlow Crusaded for Safer Cars and TrucksThe Wall Street Journal

Clarence M. Ditlow III, Auto Safety Leader, Dies at 72The Wall Street Journal

Clarence Ditlow, crusading consumer advocate for auto safety, dies at 72, The Washington Post

Organization Statements: 

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Consumer Federation of America

Friends of the Earth

National Consumers League

Safety Research and Strategies

Clarence Ditlow often spoke publicly about the importance of key auto safety issues. Watch him here: 

Clarence speaks on behalf of GM ignition victims (C-SPAN)

Clarence pressures Congress to address issues with dangerous Firestone tires (C-SPAN)