UPI/Bettman Archive Photo

To most of ABG readers, Ralph Nader was the third party candidate that ran for president in 2000 and helped seal the election for Republican candidate George W. Bush. But long ago, in 1959 as a matter of fact, Ralph Nader was a small voice in opposition to the Big 3 automakers on the subject of auto safety. He was a David against three Goliaths – GM, Ford and Chrysler. Let's face it, 48 years is a long time. But I was a young pup myself and I found a piece written by Ralph in The Nation's Perspective 2000.

Nader had some "revolutionary" ideas back then and he faced a lot of criticism and opposition. But when you read the list they start to sound quite familiar and matter of fact: Here are some of them:

- Car bodies should be able to withstand 50 mph head on collisions and should have built in roll over bars.

- Doors should not deform and open during a crash.

- Auto occupants should be secured inside the car so they don't come in contact with much of the car interior.

- Interior projections and sharp edges should minimized within the car's interior

- Cars should have better visibility, better brakes and lights, and better handling and better ventilation.

- The exterior of the car should be designed to minimize injury when a pedestrian accident occurs.

Essentially all of these items are in every car sold in the . We have 3 point seat belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes, doors and door locks that stay in place. We have foam padded dashboards, front and side air bags, and fewer sharp edged shapes, both inside and outside the car. We also have crash safety testing and 5 MPH bumpers, along with car structures designed to absorb the energy in a crash while keeping the car interior as intact as possible.

What is reassuring is that the 48 years has seen a great increase on the number of automobiles and the number of accidents but the number of fatalities has not risen in the same proportion. If you have been in an accident and one of the above features helped save you or minimize your injuries, you have Ralph Nader and many researchers who worked with him or separately from him on the same issues to thank.

NJ Governor Jon Corzine chose to do some testing in April better done with a dummy. He was in an accident at 91 mph without a seat belt. I don't think he will be doing that again.


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