February 10, 1966 – Ralph Nader, author of Unsafe at Any Speed, testifies before congress

Consumer activist and lawyer Ralph Nader’s book Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile accused automakers of failing to introduce proven safety measures, such as seat belts. He made they argument that vehicle manufacturers did this out of a reluctance to spend money on safety. Nader would go before congress on this day in 1966 to testify about automobile safety for his first time. 

He famously used the example of the first generation Chevrolet Corvair, stating the rear engine sedan was prone to rollover accidents. Following his testimony, Nader accused GM of prying into his personal life. He soon filed a lawsuit against the company, which he would win. Nader’s activism resulted in numerous safety laws, namely the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. This allowed the federal government to set safety standards for automobiles and highways.

Above: Ralph Nader. Top: 1963 Corvair by Don O’Brien CC BY 2.0

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