Then-NHTSA chief Jerry Curry contended the vehicles were obsolete, and that anyone who could have learned something from them had done so by then. Claybrook, the NHTSA chief who'd overseen the RSV cars through 1980, told Congress the destruction compared to the Nazis burning books.
"Junking those cars was a terrible idea," said Kelley, who now teaches at Tufts medical school. "What is the benefit of keeping anything that's historically important? The future wants to know more about the past, and when you destroy the past, you destroy the future's access to knowing about it."
"I thought they were intentionally destroying the evidence that you could do much better," said Friedman.
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