The number of California youth using a cell phone behind the wheel has doubled, according to an alarming study by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
The study results come on the heels of the second annual Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April, during which researchers surveyed 130 intersections in 17 counties to track how many drivers were using a phone in some way while driving, including using a bluetooth.
More than one in 10 drivers (10.8 percent) were using cell phones -- up from 7.3 percent in 2011. And with drivers between 16 and 25 years old, the rate had doubled from 9 percent in 2011 to 18 percent in 2012.
Even more alarming is a different study from the University of San Diego that said 78 percent of 5,000 surveyed college students admitted to using a phone while driving, according to a press release from OTS. 46 percent of those students, aged 18 to 29, said they felt they were capable for using a phone while driving but only 8.5 percent of them felt others were.
In order to change this mentality that accidents "won't happen to me," California has stepped up both its enforcement and public awareness efforts. OTS Assistant Director Chris Cochran told The Huffington Post that in 2008, when California passed its law banning using a phone while driving, law enforcement issued about 300,000 tickets for violating the law. In comparison, in 2011, 500,000 tickets were written, Cochran said.
For Distracted Driving Awareness Month this year, enforcement of the law increased further: 56,000 tickets were issued to cell-phone-using drivers in April alone. A recipient's first distracted driving ticket will cost about $159, and the second jumps up to $279, according to KTLA.
OTS is also getting the message out across California about the dangers of distracted driving via billboards, social media, and television and radio commercials.
Click through the videos below, aimed at raising awareness about distracted driving:
Videos courtesy of CaliforniaOTS: