Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Posts Tagged ‘tiwi’

New teen driving safety equiptment is born from tragedy

Posted by lapearce on March 6, 2010

Rianna had only been driving for three weeks when she was killed in a crash

I’ve always felt that the best way to remember and honor the dead is to do what you can to ensure what happened to them doesn’t happen to anyone else. That is why after my 16-year-old neighbor Rianna Woosely died in 2005 in a car crash that was a result of too much speed and too little experience, I started teaching teens how to drive. I felt that if I could prevent one death, if I could save one family, school, neighborhood from that experience, than I would be doing a justice to Rianna’s memory.

I was not the only one touched by Rianna’s death. Rianna was driving too fast that night because she was following her boyfriend in his pickup truck. He did not crash, but she did. His father, Todd Follmer,  was haunted by that fact. About a month after the crash Todd was given the opportunity to work for a company that created crash data recorders for NASCAR and other industries when he had an epiphany, “Why not record the data before the crash?”

Enter Tiwi, a portable navigation-sized box that sits on the dashboards of cars. It hooks into the car’s dataport (standard after 1996) and records when the driver drives recklessly, doesn’t use his/her seatbelt, or leaves a predetermined zone.  It also has the posted speed limits for all streets plugged in and can alert the driver to speeding after 1, 5 or 10 mph over the limit. Break a rule, the little box tells you– and your parents– that you aren’t being a safe driver. After the drive the Tiwi gives you a grade for how you did.

The device costs $300 and $30 a month for the software & GPS that keeps it going.The next generation of Tiwi hopes to be able to tell when the driver is on his/her phone or texting too.

With other devices like this there are teens, and even parents, who feel it is an invasion of privacy and very big brother. If spying could save the life of your child than spy away. Where I feel there needs to be criticism of devices like this is in the fact that suppressing the problem isn’t the same as solving it. The problem is that we don’t give our teens enough driving experience to be able to make the right decisions on their own, making us dependent on little boxes that chide them for doing something wrong.

Our drivers training in this country is focused on the rules of the road, not how to drive. Most of us become experienced in crash avoidance when we avoid a crash– or when we don’t, in which case the learning experience could be deadly. It is best to put the kids in their cars on a closed course and teach them where their limits are and what their cars are capable when the only things they can hit are soft, rubber cones– not other cars or trees. If you teach them how to get out of emergencies before the emergencies happen you give them a chance. A message on your phone telling you that your child is driving recklessly may help them not drive recklessly next time, but it won’t save them if they lose control around the next bend.

I don’t want to downplay the potential life-saving good that Tiwi and similar products can do, but it has to be part of a rounded approach to driver’s training. Send your child to a defensive driving course or car control clinic– they cost as much as Tiwi and don’t come with monthly payments, set up a teen and parent driving contract where you outline what is and isn’t allowed and the punishments for breaking rules, then, once you have this foundation in place, monitor their driving.


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Tiwi: because you can’t always be with your teen driver

Posted by lapearce on July 2, 2009

Nanny products that watch over teen drivers are a touchy topic. A lot of people feel like they are invading their teen’s privacy and a lot of teens don’t like the idea of every road sin they commit being recorded for their parents to see. Dispite this, there seem to be an increase in products designed to monitor teen driving. There are obviously parents out there who understand the benefits of these products outweigh this assumption that you are violating their privacy.

In a perfect world there would be no need for Tiwi. Tiwi records speeding, hard braking, sharp turns, lack of seat belt and monitors your child’s location. In a perfect world teens would understand the inharent dangers of agressive driving and not take part. I feel that proper education and defensive driving clinics do a lot to help instill these beliefs into new drivers, but even if your teen has been through a suplemental driving program, you cannot ride with them at all times. You cannot always be there to see how they are driving and to give them advice when they make a mistake.

Tiwi combines technology similar to DriveCam with GPS and adds an online element. Parents can log in to the DriveSmart web site to see a report card of their driver and incidents. They can also receive text messages, phone calls or an email if their teen’s car leaves a predetermined geographical border. Whats better than this is that if the teen corrects the behavoir themselves they prevent the information from going to the web site. This changes behavior.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested Tiwi and found that is substantially reduced risky driving and crashes because of the behavior change Tiwi created in the new drivers. 18 year old Abby Anderson has had Tiwi in her car for the past 18 months. Originally opposed to the idea, she is now glad her parents added DriveSmart’s program to her car.

“In the end, I do think, if it weren’t for putting it in, I’d have a lot more speeding tickets right now,” she said.

Her parents also enjoy the peace of mind the program gives them:

“For me, the experience of having security of knowing that she’s okay or where she’s at was a benefit as a mom,” Abby’s mother Sabrina said.

Tiwi is a little on the expensive side at $450 plus $20 a month for service. However, if it prevents one crash or a ticket it more than pays for itself. If it saves your child’s life it is worth far more than its list price.

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