Device monitors teen driving (podcast)

At CES, Larry Magid speaks with Todd Follmer, CEO of Inthinc, about his company's Tiwi products for mentoring and monitoring how teens are driving.

Tiwi device mounts on windshield. Inthinc

There are plenty of things for parents of teens to worry about, but almost nothing is as scary as when your kid ventures out behind the wheel of a car or rides in a car with another teen driver.

Each year more than 6,000 teens are involved in fatal accidents. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens.

Still, most parents allow their teens to drive. You can't sit in the backseat every time your kid takes the wheel, but thanks to the Tiwi, a $299 device that mounts to the windshield of your kid's car, you can now virtually watch and nag your kids as they drive.

As Inthinc CEO Todd Follmer explains (scroll down to listen to interview), the device can track the car's speed and location and the speed limit. The Tiwi, which has a GPS and cellular modem, will use voice to tell the driver when to slow down. The device is also integrated into the vehicle's diagnostic port so it knows if the driver has his or her seat belt on. There is also an accelerometer that can sense a hard acceleration, hard stop or hard turn. If your son or daughter responds to the device's coaching by slowing down or putting on a seat belt, nothing else happens but if they ignore the coaching, the device sends a notification to the company's portal which in turn notifies the parent via e-mail, text message or phone.

When asked if the device could actually slow down or stop the car, Follmer said that it's possible, "but not knowing exactly what the situation is, the liability of doing something that absolutely affects the operation of that car wouldn't be something we would want to take on."

For more information, visit Tiwi.com.

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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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