In his 1989 Assembly Series talk, “Corporate Power in America,” consumer advocate Ralph Nader emphasized the need for the public to hold company leaders responsible for creating safe and effective products. Much of his lecture centered on the “major epidemic of violence in society” caused by unsafe cars being manufactured in the 1960s. It took nearly 20 years for the most significant safety feature — the airbag — to become standard equipment.
“This was a major epidemic of violence in society. This was the fourth leading cause of death, and first in college age deaths. It seems that the lack of scientific and engineering research…made sure that the public ‘s expectation about the kind of cars they could have were very low and very close to what cars were being sold. And unless the public’s expectations arise in any area, any institution, you’re not going to get the pressure and the prodding for improvement.”