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“Unsafe at Any Speed” by Ralph Nader

The book “Unsafe At Any Speed” by Ralph Nader shows that automobile industry is ignoring and neglecting the dangers of their products meaning that public is offered rather hazardous products. Nevertheless, the author doesn’t want to highlight the defects of particular vehicles – Corvair – and to provide criticism of automobile industry. The author seems to aim at discussing elite control of the business and government stating that automobile industry is in the power of political and economic interests. Nader mentions that car manufacturers resist to the introduction of new safety measures such as, for example, seat belts.

Instead, they want to spend money of improving of external and internal design of the cars. The book is surely pioneering work of consumer advocacy because it is openly polemical and contains significant materials and references from industry insiders. Ralph Nader thinks that automobile manufacturers, firstly, use excessive amounts of chrome and other glossy automobile finishes. Nadir criticizes the auto design, especially dashboards and instrument panels stressing that they are too brightly finished with glossy enamels and chrome.

(Nader 1965) Nader argues that bright finish rather often reflects both the sunlight and the light of oncoming automobile into the eyes of the driver. Automobile manufacturers are aware of the existing problem, though they do little to resolve it. Instead, they provide weak excuses for their inactivity noting that style and appearance of the car would be worse. (Nader 1965) The most shocking chapter in the book is devoted to Corvair, where the author speaks about the shift quadrants on the early automatic transmission equipped cars.

He provides several examples when drivers accidentally were run over and cars turned into runaways as the driver wasn’t familiar with the shift pattern when operating the vehicle. Actually, the shift pattern was reverse intending to shift to park. Furthermore, Nader appeals to the automobile industry with the claim to standardize shift patterns and to make cars safer. (Nader 1965)


Nader, Ralph. (1965). Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of The American Automobile. New York: Grossman Publishers

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