Monitoring driving habits | Is the tiwi worth it?

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tiwi system

The tiwi system combines black-box monitoring and GPS tracking. Image from Flickr.

The tiwi sounds like practically the perfect solution for teen drivers. The little on-board computer monitors predefined “dangerous” behaviors and notifies both the driver and the parents of this activity. Originally developed for fleet drivers, the tiwi is now being marketed to parents of teen drivers. Is this little computer worth the cost and effort?

How tiwi works

The tiwi unit is a small on-board computer that connects to the diagnostic port on most cars. The computer analyzes speed, seatbelt use, zealous acceleration and other “dangerous” driving behaviors. That information is combined with GPS coordinates on the unit to create a full picture of the driver’s actions. After certain pre-set activities, the unit vocally reminds the driver of the mistake, and sends a notification to a pre-set phone, e-mail or sms system.

The benefits of the tiwi

The tiwi device can be incredibly useful. For teen drivers, who usually have 50 hours or less of driving experience, it can help reduce accidents. The ability to track the position and activities of a vehicle can also be very useful for parents. In fleet-driving situations, managers and bosses will be able to keep an eye on the activity and behavior of their employees. In short, the tiwi helps one person keep track of another — and provides reinforcement of good driving behavior.

The drawbacks of tiwi

The tiwi system is, much like many other tracking systems, intended for very helpful purposes. It raises questions of protection of privacy and safety, however. Because tiwi connects directly to cell-phone networks and the computer’s diagnostic port, there is a potential for vulnerability to hacking. There is also a “big brother” aspect of every movement of a vehicle being tracked. For employees driving company vehicles, this may not be as big of an issue – but for a 17- or 18-year-old driver, it could be slightly more sticky. In the end, the tiwi may be useful, but it is worth carefully considering whether the $200 initial price and $40 per month subscription fee is worth it for your family.

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  1. Chad Tudor on

    Another control freak New World Order BIG brother police state. What happened to self control and individual liberty?

  2. franrose on

    It reminds me of the Little Buddy Child Tracker from Best Buy that came out last year. It's a GPS tracking device that allows parents to know where their children are, and it even notifies them if their children takes off from where they're suppose to be. So it's basically a stalking technology designed for paranoid parents, much like this tiwi device. However, there are some really good points addressed on the website, I mean, we are talking about "know-it-all" teenagers. If it can, indeed, reduce the chance of being in a car crash by up to 62%, then I say it's worth it.

  3. Gary B. on

    @Chad Tudor: this is intended for TEENS, they do not have self control and too much liberty will literally kill them. (don ‘t believe me, ask the two families I personally know who lost their 17-year-old sons in separate accidents caused by speeding.) This product is designed for SAFETY. For a lot of parents, we would like to be in the car with them telling them to slow down when they are speeding. That ‘s not reasonable, but it looks like this product is the next best thing.