ACTS was originally incorporated in the District of Columbia on June 27, 1986 as the American Coalition for Traffic Safety. On July 23, 1992, ACTS was incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia. On June 16, 1999, the Board of Directors adopted the organization's current name.
ACTS is classified as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. It is funded by motor vehicle manufacturers.
In furtherance of its mission and objectives, ACTS works cooperatively with other safety organizations and government agencies. ACTS has brought together disparate groups to address difficult safety issues and has hosted numerous leadership conferences on increasing safety belt and child restraint use.
ACTS facilitated the U.S. DOT's Blue Ribbon Panel on Child Restraints and Vehicle Compatibility, which is credited with the introduction of LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children). ACTS also facilitated a second Blue Ribbon Panel: Protecting Our Older Child Passengers, which encouraged states to enact booster seat laws.
ACTS has worked to keep tweens safely restrained in the back of vehicles and raised awareness about the very serious safety issue of unintended kids in and around cars.
In 2005, ACTS was asked to serve as the manager of state legislative activities, and later overall management services, for the National Safety Council's Air Bag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign. The Campaign was a coalition of automakers, insurance companies and traffic safety advocates who came together in response to a national crisis of children dying from first generation frontal airbags. In this role, ACTS was influential in helping states pass primary enforcement safety belt laws.
In 2008, the scope of ACTS' activities was further expanded when the organization established a public-private partnership with the U.S. federal government to research and develop vehicle-integrated technologies to prevent drunk driving known as the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety Program.