Ralph Nader testified before the US Senate, restating his claims that the automobile industry was socially irresponsible and detailing the peculiar methods the industry used in attempting to silence him


Thursday 10th February 1966

Ralph Nader testified before the US Senate, restating his claims that the automobile industry was socially irresponsible and detailing the peculiar methods the industry used in attempting to silence him. Nader’s 1965 book, Unsafe At Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile, attacked the automotive industry’s unwillingness to consider the safety of the consumer. Nader’s heaviest criticism was leveled at the Chevrolet Corvair, a car that had been involved in a high number of one-car accidents. General Motors (GM) responded to Nader’s criticism by launching an investigation into his personal life and accusing Nader of being gay and anti-Semitic. Nader filed an invasion of privacy suit against GM, and ultimately exacted $425,000 from the automotive giant. By bringing the public’s right to safe automobiles into the spotlight, and by directly challenging General Motors in court, Nader created the methodology for contemporary consumer advocacy. The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which in 1966 mandated seatbelts, owed its existence to Nader’s initiative, as do the other federally regulated safety standards, which are common practice today.


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