What are you doing to avoid distraction while driving?

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Texting-while-driving citations in Minnesota.

Distracted driving played a role in nearly 17,000 crashes last year and killed more than 50 people on Minnesota roads, reports MPR News' Tim Nelson.

Shyann Ericksen was driving to summer school one day last summer, waiting to turn left at an Eagan intersection. An oncoming car was just about to pass her.

The 18-year-old Shakopee woman had just read a text when she made the left — and hit the oncoming car, badly injuring a toddler who is still struggling to recover from his injuries.

Now, she's telling her story, hoping drivers in Minnesota will take distracted driving's risks more seriously if they know how high the stakes can be.

"I looked down at my phone because I heard it vibrate," she recalled. "So, I looked at it and I read the text message from my best friend, and then I put the phone back down, because I saw the car, like out of my peripheral and then I turned left before I looked again."

The crash knocked Ericksen out, she broke an ankle and damaged her knee. A passerby helped her out of the smashed car.

"And then I walked across the street, and I just stood there, I wasn't sure what to do next," she said. "I was like, what's going on, going into shock, and I was crying, and I remember seeing the other car, with the passengers in it and I remember seeing the car seat. My heart dropped into my stomach. It was terrifying."

Fifteen-month-old Henry Knoof was in that car seat. He was hurt much worse than Ericksen.

Today's Question: What steps have you taken to avoid distraction while driving?

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