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For many parents, it's tough to watch your child turn 16, get in the car and drive away. It's a freedom teenagers live for.

But the balance of power is changing. Parents now have the ability to remotely monitor their teen's driving.

Christin Urso has been behind the wheel for six months, but not once has she truly been alone:tiwi is watching.

The device, attached to the inside of Christin's windshield, is controlled by her parents.

It's right there in front of you, she said. It's not something easy to ignore.

tiwi sends her dad a text message every time she travels 10 mph over the limit. It also issues an alert if she doesn't wear a seat belt, drives aggressively, or leaves pre-set city perimeters.

It does take away some of the freedom you're supposed to have when you get a car, Christin said.

The teen's dad, Joe Urso, said the device is as much for his daughter as himself, although she may not have seen it that way when the device was installed.

She was in disbelief; she felt like I was spying on her, Urso said. We had a little bit of an argument, you might say.

Every time Christin does something wrong, tiwi speaks to her in the same way a GPS provides directions. Christin went a little fast to demonstrate:

SPEEDING VIOLATION.

It will keep doing it if you keep speeding, but I'm going to slow down now, she said.

All the data from Christin's driving is held in an online database that parents can check. That way they can tell if her driving score is improving or not.

So far, the statistics indicate that Christin is getting better and that means her dad doesn't call her out on every text that comes through.

Because it appears that she pulls herself back together, I let it go most of the time, Urso said.

tiwi executive Jeff Harvey says the device is a great way for teenagers to have an excuse to follow the law, helping avoid peer pressure.

They are invincible because they don't know any better, he said. We lose 6,000 teenagers every year in car crashes they are the number one killer of teens.

Christin said the tiwi in her car is often a source of unexpected information. Even when you're driving and you think you're paying attention, it will say something and you realize, 'Wow, I really wasn't paying attention.'

The next step for tiwi is to determine when your child is texting and driving. But while that feature may be a year away, Joe Urso says this is a step in the right direction when it comes to safety and driver accountability.

This is not a measure of distrust, he said. It's a measure of being as smart and guarded as you can be with the most valuable thing in your life.

The tiwi device costs $299 plus $40 a month for the service, which includes roadside assistance.

E-mail sslater@wfaa.com

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