Advocates Celebrates 30th Anniversary, Bestows Awards on Safety Leaders

  • April 9, 2019
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety


Contact: Allison Kennedy,, 202-408-1711

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Celebrates 30th Anniversary, Bestows Awards on Safety Leaders

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), a unique partnership between insurance companies and agents, public health, safety and consumer groups, is marking 30 years since its founding in 1989.  The organization has a highly successful track record of advancing public policy to achieve safer cars, safer roads and safer drivers and passengers.

“Advocates’ alliance of consumers and insurers working together to prevent crashes has resulted in countless lives saved, injuries prevented and costs contained.  In our three decade history, we have achieved major safety improvements that have led to meaningful reductions in traffic fatalities,” said Cathy Chase, President of Advocates.

To mark this momentous occasion, Advocates announced several awards being given to champions of highway and auto safety.  At a reception on Capitol Hill, recipients of the Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Highway Safety Leadership Award, the Clarence M. Ditlow III Safety Champion Award, and Highway Safety Heroes will be lauded for their contributions.

Mrs. Bonnie Lautenberg said, “The Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Highway Safety Leadership Award, first commissioned in 2014, pays tribute to the safety legacy of my late husband.  Not only was he a passionate champion for public health and safety, he was also a fighter who never backed down from tough legislative battles.  This award, named in his honor, is presented to members of Congress who are driven by that same fighting spirit and commitment to public safety.”  This award is being presented to members of Congress who have been outspoken advocates for ensuring that driverless cars are developed and deployed in a way that prioritizes the safety of all consumers and road users.  These members are Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thomas R. Carper (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Tom Udall (D-NM) as well as Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

The Clarence M. Ditlow III Safety Champion Award will be presented to Steve and Susan Owings, co-founders of Road Safe America.  Jason Levine, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety said, “Steve and Susan suffered an unimaginable loss on December 1, 2002, when their son Cullum was killed in a crash involving a speeding truck.  Shortly thereafter, they began Road Safe America and have been working tirelessly ever since to prevent families from experiencing tragedies like the one they have endured.”  Mrs. Marilyn Herman Ditlow said, “The Clarence M. Ditlow III Safety Champion award was established to commemorate Clarence’s tireless devotion and dedication to protecting consumers and making vehicles safer, resulting in saving thousands of lives.”  Clarence Ditlow not only served at the helm of the Center for Auto Safety for more than 40 years, he was also a founding Board Member of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.  Joan Claybrook, also a founding Board Member of Advocates, President Emeritus of Public Citizen and former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator, said “As an engineer and attorney, Clarence was an expert advocate who gathered detailed factual information to usually win his petition or case.  He was an invaluable source of information for consumers and a tireless watchdog with an unparalleled understanding of safety defects and recalls under the law.”

Additionally, Advocates will present “Highway Safety Hero” awards to other Members of Congress, federal and state leaders, and citizen activists who have advanced safety initiatives.  They include: Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Senators Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) and Roger F. Wicker (R-MS), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Representatives Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), James P. McGovern (D-MA) and David E. Price (D-NC), California Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D), Mississippi Senator Willie Simmons (D), Nebraska Senator Robert Hilkemann, Texas Representative Tom Craddick (R), Texas Senator Judith Zaffirini (D), Utah Representative Lee Perry (R), Utah Senator Curtis S. Bramble (R), as well as Dara Baldwin of the Center for Disability Rights, Dr. Mary Cummings of Duke University, J. Thomas Manger, former Chief of the Montgomery County (MD) Police Department, and the Honorable Robert Sumwalt, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

“Advocates congratulates all of the recipients of these distinguished awards.  We are proud to have worked with terrific safety partners since 1989 that have been instrumental in securing countless safety advances,” added Chase.  “Advocates looks forward to continuing to build on our safety successes to curb the preventable loss of life that tragically occurs on our streets and highways every day.”

“In 1989, insurance companies joined together with consumer, public health and safety groups to advance a shared goal – prevent motor vehicle crashes,” said Lee Fanshaw, Insurance Co-Chair and Federal Government Affairs Director at American Family Insurance.  He added, “Over the past thirty years, this partnership has not only endured but has been the driving force behind the passage of federal and state laws that are saving lives, reducing injuries and containing crash costs.”

Janette Fennell, Consumer Co-Chair of Advocates, and President and Founder of, said, “In addition to numerous safety accomplishments, Advocates has published its annual Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws for the past sixteen years.  Over that time approximately 250 optimal laws have been passed in state legislatures across the country for seat belts, motorcycle helmets, child passenger safety, teen drivers, impaired driving and distracted driving.  Yet, more than 400 laws are still needed to improve safety in our nation, and Advocates will continue to push for their enactment.”

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety ( is a coalition of consumer, public health, medical, safety and insurance organizations working together to improve highway and auto safety policies in Congress, states and Executive branch agencies.