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Top U.S. auto safety official Heidi King to step down

Heidi King, the acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is set to step down on August 31, Automotive News reports.

Why it matters: King was nominated a year ago to become permanent administrator, but never confirmed by Congress. Sources tell Axios that her management style alienated some at the agency, which has been coping with management churn and been accused by consumer advocates of being too cozy with the auto industry.

  • King had been highly involved in the administration's efforts to relax light-vehicle fuel-efficiency requirements from the Obama administration's standards.

Between the lines: The Trump administration is operating in a unique moment when it comes to auto safety, particularly as it relates to regulating self-driving cars. While the administration had been leaving it to automakers to assess the safety of their automated driving systems, a series of Tesla crashes has called the practice into question. Recent reports have suggested the administration getting more aggressive with their efforts to regulate the industry.

What's next: King will be replaced by Deputy General Counsel James Owens.

Go deeper: Self-driving cars could be more fuel-efficient than human drivers