For those people who still haven’t figured out about the dangers of texting or talking on your phone while driving, be extra careful this month.

That’s because the California Highway Patrol, along with 225 local agencies across California, have started a monthlong campaign as part of the state’s first Distracted Driver Awareness Month.

According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and General Estimates System, almost 5,500 people were killed and about 448,000 were injured in the U.S. in 2009 because of distracted drivers.

And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that about 18 percent of fatalities in distraction-related crashes involved cell phones.

A statewide ban on handheld devices took effect in July of 2008 and the San Jose Mercury News reports that “about 353,642 drivers have been hit with tickets from CHP officers” since then.

The first ticket starts at $159 for offenders, with the dollar amount increasing with each subsequent ticket.

Click here for more information.

Photo Credit: User WhisperToMe, via Wikimedia Commons