IEEE HomeSearch IEEEShopWeb AccountContact IEEE



   Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Larger Text


WELCOME!  Here is the Press Release announcing this project:

World's First Motor Vehicle “Black Box” Data Security Standard Begun At IEEE; Intended to Enhance Both Highway Safety and Consumer Protection

Karen McCabe, IEEE-SA Marketing Director
+1 732-562-3824,

PISCATAWAY, N.J., USA,31 March 2009 -- Driven by a lack of uniform scientific crash data needed to help make vehicle and highway transportation safer and reduce fatalities, the IEEE created IEEE 1616™ in 2004, the first universal standard for motor vehicle event data recorders (MVEDRs), much like those that monitor crashes on aircraft and trains. Now, as millions of vehicles include MVEDR memory modules, new work has begun on an amendment -- IEEE P1616a™, IEEE Standard for Motor Vehicle Event Data Recorders (MVEDRs) - Amendment 1: Motor Vehicle Event Data Recorder Connector Lockout Apparatus (MVEDRCLA) -- in order to help prevent data tampering, VIN theft and odometer fraud.

"IEEE 1616a seeks to enhance vehicle and highway safety by offering methods to help secure crash data that can then be used to inform efforts to improve consumer protection for millions of vehicle owners," says Tom Kowalick, Chair of the IEEE P1616a Working Group and President of Click, Inc. "This amendment expands the body of research that taught us to appreciate the significance of MVEDRs. It is imperative that the scientific data generated by MVEDRs is both credible and secure."

National Safety Council statistics show that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in those of ages between 1 and 33 years in the United States, making them the nation's largest public health problem, causing a death every 12 minutes and a disabling injury every 14 seconds. Worldwide, someone dies in a motor vehicle crash each minute, according to the World Health Organization. Road crash fatalities have claimed about 30 million lives globally since 1896. Few of millions of motorists realize that many modern vehicles collect crash data.

Since 1996, many cars and light trucks come equipped with sensing and diagnostic memory modules (MVEDRs). There are many types of recorders; some continuously record data, overwriting the previous few minutes until a crash stops them, and others are activated by crash-like events (such as a sudden change of velocity or angular momentum) and continue to record until the crash is over. MVEDRs can record whether or not brakes were used, the speed at the time of impact, the steering angle and whether seat belts were worn during the crash.
Kowalick notes, “Given the dramatic growth of electronic components in motor vehicles, an estimated 60 million vehicles currently utilize MVEDR technologies. Recent civil and criminal cases have included EDR data in the body of evidence that is reviewed. The EDR data can be used as evidence of crime or to hold drivers responsible for damages in personal injury lawsuits. Numerous vehicle operators who were unaware that EDR data was available, have been sentenced, based, in part, on the black box data extracted from their vehicles.”

Ownership of MVEDR data is a matter of state law. Generally, the owner of the vehicle is considered to be the rightful owner. However, courts can subpoena crash data. This amendment to the foundation IEEE 1616 standard seeks to help maintain data privacy, prevent tampering, avoid odometer fraud and limit data access while enhancing safety.

Data Tampering: IEEE P1616a seeks to help ensure data integrity and to help detect evidence of data tampering. Under current practice, although crash investigation teams may properly collect MVEDR data, the integrity of the data gathered may be questioned or there may not be a rationale for lack of data (once erased). “Tampering” means to modify, remove, render inoperative, cause to be removed, or to make less operative any device or element on a motor-vehicle or motor-vehicle power train, chassis or body components which results in altering federal vehicle motor safety standards (FMVSS). IEEE P1616a is intended to help rectify this problem.

VIN Theft: A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is used to uniquely identify a motor vehicle by specifying some of its various attributes, such as its make, model and sequential number. Depending on the particular format used, a VIN in North America typically consists of seventeen alphanumeric characters (excluding the letters I, O and Q): three characters for manufacturer identification, five characters for vehicle attributes, a check digit character, a model year character, a plant code character, and six characters for a sequential number.

To assist in the identification of vehicles and to help prevent vehicle theft, VINs are typically affixed to different parts of the vehicle. For instance, it is common to find a small metal plaque, a sticker or an etching that bears the VIN on the dashboard near the point where it meets the front windshield, on the driver side front door, on a rear wheel-well, on the engine or on some other part of the vehicle. Placing the VIN in these known locations enables, among other things, the authorities to uniquely identify a particular vehicle.

Car thieves have been known to walk through parking lots or other structures and record the VINs of non-stolen vehicles that happen to have the same make, model and year as vehicles that they have already stolen. The thieves will then replace the original plaques, stickers or etchings on the stolen vehicle with new, authentic-looking ones bearing the newly acquired VIN. This process is known as ”VIN cloning,” and it is intended to allow car thieves to pass off a stolen vehicle as non-stolen. Telematic applications are also utilized for transmittal of VIN numbers from a vehicle.  Electronic devices to alter VIN numbers plugged into the vehicle diagnostic link connector aid in vehicle theft.  IEEE 1616a is intended to help rectify this problem.

Odometer Fraud: A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report notes:

“Odometer fraud is the illegal practice of rolling back odometers to make it appear that vehicles have lower mileage than they actually do. This has historically been considered a significant problem for the American consumer. While any vehicle sold on the used car market could have been the object of odometer tampering, the problem has been considered to be most prevalent among late model vehicles which have accumulated high mileage in a relatively short period of time.

Vehicles in fleets, such as lease fleets, rental fleets, or business company fleets typically fall into this category. When sold on the used car market, vehicles whose odometers have been rolled back, or "spun," can obtain artificially high prices, since a vehicle's odometer reading is a key indicator of the condition, and hence the value, of the vehicle.”

IEEE P1616a builds on more than a decade of MVEDR research and development. Major studies in this field include those by the Department of Transportation (USDOT), the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA), the Federal Highway Works Administration (FHWA), the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and many of the world's automotive, truck and bus manufacturers.

The working group that formed the initial foundation IEEE 1616 standard met 13 times in 2 years, drawing experts from industry and government from across the U.S.

IEEE P1616a has potential benefits in many sectors, including:

-- Legal Profession: Those who are qualified to practice law will benefit from the knowledge and understanding that MVEDR evidence is more secure and has greater authenticity if the data is introduced in civil and criminal cases.  

-- Law Enforcement: Officials at a crash site will benefit from following proper protocol that provides secure access to the vehicle diagnostic link connector and establishes a chain of custody for evidence.

--Vehicle Telematics: Data protocol developed will enhance the ability of connected vehicles in the process of interchanging electronic data.

--Consumer Protection and Privacy Advocates: This standard will help build a foundation for safeguarding consumer interests to help protect vehicle owners from misuse of data.

-- Automotive industry: Design data based on a large number of crashes of differing severities will be provided. Also, the standard is intended to provide early evaluation of system performance and vehicle design and allow for the global harmonization of automotive safety standards.

-- Insurance industry: The standard will help protect data, and by doing so help in identifying fraudulent claims, which exceed $20 billion annually, and odometer fraud cases, which is estimated at 452,000 instances per year by NHTSA. Also, the standard is intended to improve risk management, expedite claims, decrease administrative costs, and give insurers needed data to subrogate claims and recover expenses.

-- Government: IEEE P1616a should help in promulgating and evaluating federal vehicle theft and odometer fraud standards, identifying problem injuries and mechanisms, stipulating injury criteria, and investigating defects. State and local officials should be able to obtain crash information on problem intersections and road lengths.

-- Research: The technology outlined in IEEE P1616a should help those in human-factors research better understand such areas as the man-machine interface, crash and injury causation, and the effects of aging, medical conditions and fatigue.

-- Medical providers: Those in the medical field will benefit from help with the on-scene triage of crash victims, improved diagnostic and therapeutic decisions, the ability to allow automatic notification of emergency providers, and information that aids in the organization of trauma and EMS resources.

-- The public: The data that is collected and secured by compliant MVEDRs could help create better policies, and improve vehicle, emergency response and roadway design. Other outcomes may include improved driving habits, lower insurance costs, decreased fraud and reduction in the number of crashes.

Volunteers are welcome to join the working group. Especially of interest are consumer protection representatives, privacy advocates, legal professionals, owners of vehicle fleets and rental car companies, and members of academia. Contact the Chair at

IEEE 1616 and IEEE P1616a are sponsored by the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society.

About the IEEE Standards Association
The IEEE Standards Association, a globally recognized standards-setting body, develops consensus standards through an open process that engages industry and brings together a broad stakeholder community. IEEE standards set specifications and best practices based on current scientific and technological knowledge. The IEEE-SA has a portfolio of over 900 active standards and more than 400 standards under development. For information on the IEEE-SA, see:

About the IEEE
The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.) is the world’s largest technical professional society. Through its more than 375,000 members in 160 countries, the organization is a leading authority on a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics. Dedicated to the advancement of technology, the IEEE publishes 30 percent of the world’s literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields, and has developed over 900 active industry standards. The organization annually sponsors more than 850 conferences worldwide. Additional information about the IEEE can be found at


Copyright ©2009 IEEE-SA
(Modified: April 7, 2009)