An Eagan woman whose toddler was severely injured in a car accident last summer is pleading with drivers – especially teenagers – to stop texting while they're behind the wheel.
Kelsey Dyals spoke at a news conference Monday with officials from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to call attention to the dangers of distracted driving, the Associated Press reports.
Dyals recalled the accident in July in which her son, Henry, who was then 15 months old, was nearly killed when a car driven by a teenager hit her vehicle head-on at an intersection in Eagan.
The 17-year-old driver admitted to police she was texting on her phone, had her head down and wasn't paying attention when she hit Dyals' car.
The boy, who was buckled into a car seat, suffered a serious head injury and was put into a medically induced coma for a time, Dyals said.
Henry, now 21 months old, is recovering but still requires anti-seizure medication, she said.
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"I just want to get the word out that teenagers think phones are the priority, and they're not," Dyals said. "One text message almost killed my son."
Dyals acknowledged that she also texted while driving in the past.
"I have, but I won't anymore," she said, according to MPR News.
The 17-year-old was charged with a felony and was to appear in juvenile court late last year. The outcome of the case is not known because juvenile proceedings are closed to the public.
State officials warn that distracted driving is responsible for one out of every four fatal car accidents in Minnesota, and 50 people died last year in such crashes, according to MPR.
According to recent U.S. government statistics, drivers who are younger than 20 make up the largest proportion of distracted drivers compared to other age groups.
About 25 percent of teenagers said they respond to a text message once or more every time they drive.