A Life of Work – Saving Lives: On January 26, 2017, safety leaders gathered to honor the more than 40 years of work by Clarence M. Ditlow III that contributed enormously to saving millions of Americans from death and injuries from vehicle violence. And continues to save lives.
A Life of Work – Saving Lives: On January 26, 2017, safety leaders gathered to honor the more than 40 years of work by Clarence M. Ditlow III that contributed enormously to saving millions of Americans from death and injuries from vehicle violence. And continues to save lives.1
Speakers were Ralph Nader2, Joan Claybrook3, Honorable Henry A. Waxman4, Michael Hausfeld5, Alan Morrison6, James Butler, crash victim and Class Action Attorney7, Jack Gillis, author of The Car Book, Jack Fitzgerald, famous Auto Dealer, Dan Becker8, Kathy Meyer and Ben Kelley, Board members of the CAS1, and Marilyn Herman Ditlow, Clarence’s loving wife.
Among the more than 100 attendees were leaders from the legal, academic, media, governmental, consumer, crash victim, and public interest communities.
Some of the additional leaders who attended were: Marianne Karth10, Mike Lemov, author of Car Safety Wars, Byron and Naomi Bloch11, Myron Levin of Fair Warning12, Dr. Marta Tellado of Consumers Union13 and Jackie Gillan14.
Clarence was remembered for his integrity, ethics, dedication, humanity, kindness, and toughness and effectiveness as an advocate for safety, pollution control, and consumer protection.
Nader rightly thought of Clarence as The Guardian Angel for America’s Motorists. Nader described Clarence as follows:
“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.
Self-effacing and ethical, he did not ask anything for himself, receiving a very modest salary, living a simple and courageous life, as his wife, Marilyn Herman recounted in his final days.”
A video of Nader introducing Clarence last spring and Clarence’s message to us all is at15.
A summary of Tributes to Clarence is at16.
Legal Reader has asked that I relate stories from my experience on safety and air pollution control.
I think of Clarence as the person who joined my Board on The Public Interest Campaign during the early 1970s. I was fighting to get the lead out of gasoline, get octane ratings on gas pumps, get catalytic converters on cars, establish Federal fuel economy standards, and suing the National Academy of Sciences to divulge data on Federal auto emission control measurements under the Clean Air Act. I was the Whistle Blower on EPA changes in the measurement test procedures. Clarence was the most constructive and supportive person I knew during and after those difficult years.17
Continuing Clarence’s Priceless Work
At the Tribute to Clarence there was an initiative to raise $5 million to build on Clarence’s work. The Center for Auto Safety’s Ditlow Fund Pledge Card can be found here. Two speakers had already publicly pledged $100,000 each.
Here are some yardsticks to measure the $5 million for this work:
- CBS was charging $5 million for a 30 second ad in 2016.18
- $9.6 million = DOT’s Economic Value of a Statistical Life.19
- Nationally, vehicle violence each day results in:
- 100 deaths
- 400 serious injuries (brains, burns, spinal cords, skeletal…)
- $2 billion in losses
- The 4 millionth vehicle death in U.S. is expected in a few years.
- 40,000 Americans lose their lives to vehicle violence each year.
- National average is 10 lives lost per 100,000 people/year.20
If 50,000 people donate $100 each it would = $5 million.
If 50,000 lawyers contribute $100 each it would = $5 million.
If 50,000 families of crash victims donated $100 each = $5 million.
Think of a network of people who join together to continue Clarence’s work to stop the currently endless tragedies. We can help organize to build a more just and safer America.
Editor’s Note: We agree that Clarence was a remarkable man and, in Mr. Nader’s words, The Guardian Angel for America’s Motorists. To that end, we have pledged $1,000.00 to the Ditlow Fund. In addition, one of the lawyers we featured in our Feel Good Friday pieces, Justinian C. Lane, also pledged $1,000.00. Hopefully, those who are concerned with vehicle safety and are able to give will be moved to do so. Again, the donation form can be found here.