Editor's note: This column was first published on commondreams.org on Jan. 23. It has been edited for publication.
The New York Times has rediscovered its auto safety news beat, which blossomed in the 1960s after my book, Unsafe at Any Speed, caused an uproar in Detroit. Reporter Christopher Jensen told readers of the Times about a new report by a coalition of six automotive safety groups demanding that the new Biden administration recharge the moribund, industry-dominated NHTSA with strong leadership, adequate budget and long-overdue, proven vehicle safety standards.
Since its creation by Congress in 1966, NHTSA has had some bright moments that made motor vehicles more crashworthy and operationally safer, with less pollution and more fuel efficiency.
Since then, more than 4 million lives have been saved and many more injuries prevented. Property damage was diminished and insurance premiums were lower than they would have been had the Wild West nonregulation, "style over safety" manias been allowed to continue. Laissez-faire runs amok.