IEEE Brings Unprecedented Level of Automotive BlackBox Consumer Protection to Market with New IEEE 1616a Standard

Latest addition to IEEE 1616 standard family for automotive “Event Data Recorders” helps strengthen consumer protections while maintaining privacy rights

PISCATAWAY, N.J.--()--IEEE, the world's leading professional association for the advancement of technology today announced the completion of IEEE 1616a, a new standard based on IEEE 1616, the first universal standard for motor vehicle event data recorders (MVEDRs), similar to units found on aircraft and trains. An adjunct to IEEE 1616, the new standard helps to provide greater consumer protections by improving the effectiveness of these automotive “black boxes” with new lockout functionality designed to prevent data tampering, such as Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) altering and odometer fraud. It also addresses concerns over privacy rights by establishing standards protecting data from misuse.

“According to the World Health Organization, someone dies in a motor vehicle crash once every minute, and road crash fatalities have claimed 30 million lives globally since 1896,” said Tom Kowalick, Chair of the IEEE P1616a Working Group. “As millions of drivers today face ongoing automotive recalls for electrical and onboard computer issues, MVEDRs are playing an increasingly critical role in the analysis of the scientific data collected from these vehicles. IEEE 1616a provides another extraordinary layer of protection by ensuring the integrity of data collected is not compromised, while providing stronger consumer protections and preserving privacy rights.”

The newest member in the IEEE 1616 collection, IEEE 1616a aims to preserve the data quality and integrity needed to meet federal collection standards, while protecting consumers’ privacy. Built on more than a decade of MVEDR research and development by organizations including federal agencies, industry trade associations, and global automotive, truck, and bus manufacturers, newly added safeguards in IEEE 1616a address the following areas:

  • Data tampering – modification, removal, erasure, or otherwise rendering inoperative of any device or element, including MVEDRs;
  • VIN theft – duplication and transfer of unique VIN numbers, a process known as “VIN cloning”, enabling stolen cars to be passed off as non-stolen;
  • Odometer fraud – rolling back of vehicle odometers, resulting in the appearance of lower mileage values; and
  • Privacy – prevention of the misuse of collected data for vehicle owners.

As early as 1996, auto manufacturers began installing MVEDRs as part of car and light truck airbag modules. Triggered by certain conditions, such as changes in vehicle speed, MVEDRs collect a variety of data during crash and near-crash events. Data typically collected includes speed at time of impact, steering angle, whether brakes were applied, and seatbelt usage during the crash. However, in 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will require MVEDRs to meet specific data collection standards.

“There has been dramatic growth in the volume of sophisticated electronic components installed in today’s generation of motor vehicles, including an estimated 60 million vehicles using MVEDR technologies,” noted Kowalick. “IEEE 1616a will help minimize traffic-related fatalities, reduce instances of theft and insurance fraud, and help improve vehicle, emergency response, and roadway design, providing consumers with a greater level of protection.”

The IEEE Vehicular Technology Society sponsored the development of IEEE 1616a. For additional information, please visit IEEE or contact the IEEE 1616a Working Group Chair, Tom Kowalick, via email at

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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


Karen McCabe, +1 732-562-3824

Release Summary

IEEE announces the completion of IEEE 1616a, a new standard based on IEEE 1616, the first universal standard for motor vehicle event data recorders (MVEDRs).


Karen McCabe, +1 732-562-3824