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Auto industry, US regulators agree to boost safety recalls

[DETROIT] The US Transportation Department and 17 automakers are agreeing to work together on safety measures and to improve recalls while the companies also agreed to voluntarily work with the government to identify cybersecurity threats.

Automakers including General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Toyota Motor Corp agreed to reforms in the way they report fatalities, injuries and warranty claims to the government.

Company executives met with US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in Detroit Friday at the North American International Auto Show. They had met with Foxx in Washington in December.

The news follows an announcement yesterday in Detroit that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration will allow automakers with safe autonomous vehicles to apply for exemptions to certain rules. It's part of the new approach by the agency designed to ensure government doesn't stand in the way of technological progress.

Regulators also announced their intention to award US$4 billion in grants to fund demonstration projects that can help speed the reality of self-driving cars.

Last year, 10 companies committed to make automatic emergency braking standard in all new vehicles. The companies made the commitment rather than waiting for a federal mandate, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said at a speech in Detroit Tuesday.

The effort is a model of how the industry and US regulators should work together in the future, Rosekind said, an effort he calls "proactive safety."