NCL mourns the passing of auto safety icon Clarence Ditlow – National Consumers League

November 11, 2016

Contact: Cindy Hoang, National Consumers League,, (202) 207-2832 

The National Consumers League (NCL) mourns the passing of a great auto safety advocate, Clarence Ditlow. Clarence had served as the founder and Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety since 1976. He died at the age of 72 after a long struggle with colon cancer. This statement is attributed to NCL’s Executive Director Sally Greenberg.

“Clarence Ditlow’s name is synonymous with auto safety. Anyone in the industry who has spent a day working in this area knows Clarence and the Center for Auto Safety. In my years at Consumers Union (CU), I had many occasions to work with Clarence, who served on CU’s Board of Directors, and see him in action. His research and advocacy exposing auto defects–including ignition switches, roof crush, and sudden acceleration–were invaluable and helped to vastly improve the safety and reliability of today’s vehicles. Consumers owe him a debt of gratitude for continuously keeping industry’s feet to the fire and demanding that automakers deliver far safer and more fuel efficient vehicles. The remarkable progress we’ve seen in reduced deaths and injuries since the Center was founded is a testament to Clarence’s work. Since 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.”

The Center for Auto Safety helped to expose faulty airbag inflators, defective tires, dangerously designed ignition switches, defective engine mounts, roofs on vehicles that collapsed on impact and crushed occupants, exploding gas tanks and child seats with defective latches, and many other auto safety issues.  

Saluting his work, Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-VCT) said in a statement in the Congressional Record of Sept. 29, 2016:

“Through a lifetime of work improving automotive and safety laws, Mr. Ditlow has helped save thousands of lives and prevented many more injuries than would otherwise have occurred. A tireless champion for consumers, his work has resulted in better government oversight of automakers, the installation of key safety features, and the exposure of safety defects in millions of cars, SUVs and other trucks….Mr. Ditlow’s discovery of numerous automotive defects, combined with his persistent pressure on safety agencies and automakers alike, led to the removal of many unsafe vehicles from the road.”

The National Consumers League mourns the loss of Clarence Ditlow, fellow safety advocate and crusader, who did so much to advance the cause of safer and more fuel efficient automotive vehicles. 


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit