Auto insurers may have more data to work with when resolving claims. While a black box has been created to help make vehicle and highway transportation safer and reduce fatalities, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ IEEE 1616 could help insurers protect data and better identify fraudulent claims. The IEEE 1616 was created in 2004, the first universal standard for motor vehicle event data recorders, 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, vehicle identification number 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 in the United States, making it the nation's largest public health problem, causing a death every 12 minutes and a disabling injury every 14 seconds, according to a document on NAMIC’s Web site. 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.

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.

Since 1996, many cars and light trucks come equipped with sensing and diagnostic memory modules. 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 brakes were used, the speed at the time of impact, the steering angle, and whether seat belts were worn during the crash.

“Given the dramatic growth of electronic components in motor vehicles, an estimated 60 million vehicles currently utilize MVEDR technologies,” says Kowalick. “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.”

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