AUSTIN (KXAN) - There are drivers who are good at hiding it. And then there are those who aren't.
"The two-thumb texter," is how Austin Police Lt. Ely Reyes described the second group. "The person that has the phone turned sideways with both hands on the steering wheel."
Since the city of Austin banned texting and driving, Austin police officers have written more than 500 tickets.
Ron Yakerson got one of them. He was driving to a client's house and using the map on his cell phone to find it -- something he thought was perfectly legal.
"I think I paid somewhere between $260, but it was just enough to make it really not worth picking up my phone in my car ever again," said Yakerson.
At first, Yakerson wanted to fight the ticket.
"I think I just grew up a little bit and realized: 'You know what? It's more than a ticket.' [Police] are doing it for a reason, and the reason is because they're seeing that bad things are happening when you're using your phone and not paying attention to the road, and it happens so fast."
It only took seconds for Heather Rountree, 29, to total her car trying to multitask getting onto MoPac Boulevard last summer.
"I hit the guardrail head-on, so it just basically crushed in the entire front end of my car. [Paramedics] were saying I was super lucky. It was just a total miracle that I didn't get hurt," said Rountree.
It was her first accident all because she was texting a friend back about going to the lake.
"Of all the ways to total your car, it just felt like a really stupid one," said Rountree.
X the TXT
KXAN will be handing out thumb bands during Dogtoberfest on Saturday as part of the stations's X the TXT campaign.
According to public information KXAN requested from the city of Austin, nearly half of the drivers ticketed in Austin were in their 20s. Around 30 percent were in their 30s. While teens are often blamed for bad driving, only two were younger than 18.
"They're just learning to drive and it's an exciting time in their life, and they don't want to do anything to jeopardize that," said Lt. Reyes.
Experts say that a texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash than a non-texting driver.
The Austin Police Department does not keep statistics on accidents caused by distractions such as texting while driving. But according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, such distractions account for about 16 percent of all fatal crashes nationwide.
According to the federal agency, nearly 3,100 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2010 and an estimated 416,000 were injured in such crashes.
The most common place to get caught is Interstate Highway 35. Officers on motorcycles drive on the shoulder during rush hour looking for texters.
"[Drivers] think that in that slow traffic it's safer when in all reality it's more dangerous because it is stop and go traffic and you don't know when the person in front of you is going to stop," said Lt. Reyes.
Heather and Ron say they have changed their driving habits after learning the lesson the hard way.
"When I'm driving now, I don't even pick up my phone," said Yakerson.
But for some, old habits are hard to break. There are five people who have been ticketed twice. When it comes to men vs. women, both are just as guilty.
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