Ralph Nader didn't invent auto safety, but he had more to do with the present maze of federal rules and regulations on the subject than anyone else.
There were safety crusaders before Nader, among them Rep. Kenneth Roberts, D-Ala., and Sens. Philip Hart, D-Mich., and Abraham Ribicoff, D-Conn.
Volvo always has emphasized safety, and Ford Division stressed it in its 1956 models. An energy-absorbing steering wheel, safety door latches and safety glass in the rear-view mirror were standard, and seat belts and a padded instrument panel were optional.
Ford's noble idea failed in the marketplace. In 1955, Chevrolet outsold Ford by 67,405 cars. In 1956, Chevy's margin was 190,056 cars, nearly three times as many. That proved that 'safety doesn't sell,' and the industry lived by that principle for three decades.
Meanwhile, Nader wrote a book.