CES: Tiwi from Inthinc prevents texting while driving (podcast)

A Salt Lake City company has a device that can detect and shut down a cell phone while a teen or employee is driving. Inthinc CEO Todd Follmer described it to Larry Magid.

Device attaches to windshield and connects to car's electrical system Inthinc

A 2009 study (PDF) from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that truck drivers who were texting were 23 times more at risk of a "crash or near crash event" than "nondistracted driving." As reported by CNET's Jennifer Guevin, the study also found that "texting took a driver's focus away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds--enough time...to travel the length of a football field at 55 mph."

Teenage drivers are especially vulnerable. In addition to being less experienced drivers, they are more likely to text than adults. A Federal Communications Commission consumer advisory on texting while driving quotes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as reporting that driver distraction was the cause of 16 percent of all fatal crashes in 2008, resulting in 5,800 fatalities and 515,000 injuries. The American Automobile Association says that "taking your eyes off of the road for two seconds doubles your risk of getting into a crash."

Inthinc, a Salt Lake City company, was at the Consumer Electronics Show with a solution for parents and companies whose employees have company issued phones. The product, which is called Tiwi and costs $299 plus a $29.95 monthly subscription fee, can disable a cell phone for calling or texting, according to CEO Todd Follmer. It can also report the person's speed, whether they're engaged in aggressive driving, and even if they're using their seat belt. Parents or employers can check in via an Internet portal.

Inthinc CEO Todd Follmer Inthinc
To learn more, I spoke with CEO Todd Follmer at the Showstoppers press event at CES 2011.

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About the author

Larry Magid is a technology journalist and an Internet safety advocate. He's been writing and speaking about Internet safety since he wrote Internet safety guide "Child Safety on the Information Highway" in 1994. He is co-director of ConnectSafely.org, founder of SafeKids.com and SafeTeens.com, and a board member of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Larry's technology analysis and commentary can be heard on CBS News and CBS affiliates, and read on CBSNews.com. He also writes a personal-tech column for the San Jose Mercury News. You can e-mail Larry.

 

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