Clarence Ditlow, the executive director for the Center of Auto Safety in Washington, who spent decades protecting consumers by fighting for safer vehicles and automaker accountability, died Thursday night. He was 72 years old when he lost his battle with colon cancer.
Here is what some vehicle safety advocates and administrators, among others, had to say about Ditlow’s passing.
“Spanning four decades, his work forced the auto industry to make vast improvements in the safety, reliability and fuel efficiency of the vehicles on which Americans depend daily.
“His accomplishments included safety recalls of tens of millions of vehicles that saved untold thousands of lives, and lemon laws in all 50 states.”
-- Center for Auto Safety
“Clarence dedicated his life’s work to improving the safety of all those who drive or ride in motor vehicles. Clarence was relentless in his pursuits, and whether he was taking the fight to the auto industry, or prodding NHTSA when he felt we weren’t moving fast enough, no one could ever doubt his heartfelt motivation. Americans are driving in cars that are safer thanks to Clarence, and his voice as an advocate for safety won’t easily be replaced.”
-- Mark Rosekind, administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
“For over four decades, Clarence fought tirelessly to stem the terrible toll that automobiles take on American society. In addition, he was one of the first to understand the impact of the automobile on the environment. Clarence was likely responsible for saving more lives than anyone else in the auto safety community. His efforts were monumental, his effectiveness unmatched, and his dedication to public service was a beacon for hundreds of advocates. This is a tragic blow to public safety at a time when consumer protections are at such great risk.
“Personally, this is profoundly sad news. I have worked with Clarence almost daily for 37 years, and like many, knew him as an uncompromising advocate, a true compass for what’s right, and a loyal friend. He will be dearly missed on many levels.”
-- Jack Gillis, director of public affairs at Consumer Federation of America
“Clarence M. Ditlow III spent his lifetime working to improve automotive and safety laws. There is no doubt that he helped save thousands of lives and prevented many more injuries than would otherwise have occurred. He was a brilliant and tireless champion for consumers, and 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.
“Clarence Ditlow was a warrior, and his death will be an immeasurable loss in this long fight against the special interests. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, loved ones and all of his colleagues at the Center for Auto Safety.”
-- U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass.
“We’re saddened by the passing of one of the most respected vehicle safety advocates the world has ever seen. Mr. Ditlow has saved the lives of millions who get behind the wheel every day. We are eternally grateful to him for his unfailing vision and tireless efforts to keep us all safe. On behalf of every member of Team Carfax, we extend our condolences to the Ditlow family."
-- Carfax Inc.