"Black box" standards in the works

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Assn. (IEEE-SA) has begun working to create the first universal standard for motor vehicle event data recorders (MVEDR), which are more commonly known as "black boxes." Much like the black boxes used on commercial aircraft, MVEDRs would perform the same function in both automobiles and trucks, recording crash data to help improve vehicle safety. IEEE said its black box standards project brings together industry and government experts to formulate a minimum performance protocol for the use of onboard tamper- and crash-proof memory devices for all types and classes of highway and roadway vehicles. This international standard would help manufacturers develop black boxes for automobiles, trucks, buses, ambulances, fire trucks and other vehicles. The MVEDR standard will define what data should be captured, including date, time, location, velocity, heading, number of occupants and seat belt use. It will also define how that information should be obtained, recorded and transmitted. "The more accurate the data we gather on highway crashes, the better chance we have to reduce the devastating effects of crashes," said Jim Hall, co-chair of the IEEE P1616 working group and former head of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).Hall added that the IEEE P1616 project builds on more than a decade of ongoing MVEDR research. It will draw on studies conducted by DOT, NHTSA, FMCSA, FHWA and the Transportation Research Board, along with research done by car, truck and bus manufacturers.

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