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NHTSA extends comment period on AV safety framework after industry request

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U.S. auto safety regulators approved a request from the auto industry and other business groups seeking a 60-day extension of the comment period on a proposed rule-making to develop a safety framework for automated vehicles, according to an unpublished federal document.

The groups that asked for an extension include the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the National Automobile Dealers Association, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association and the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets.

NHTSA is now seeking comments through April 1. The comment period was previously scheduled to end Monday.

In their request, the industry groups argued the additional time was needed to seek input regarding the “many complex issues” in the agency’s proposed rule-making. The extra time would allow them “to better ensure that the comments they provide to NHTSA reflect the full measure of thought and analysis that is due for this important proceeding,” according to the document.

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NHTSA issued the advanced notice of proposed rule-making in November to get public input on how to ensure the safety of self-driving vehicles — a move that could result in the agency issuing new guidance documents addressing an AV safety framework, though any final rules are likely years away.

Former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the rule-making “will help address legitimate public concerns about safety, security and privacy without hampering innovation in the development of automated driving systems.”

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The latest action by NHTSA comes during a busy month for the agency, which hastened efforts to finish projects, finalize rules and tie up loose ends in anticipation of President Joe Biden taking office.

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