A Season for Changing, Adapting, and Overcoming
What an interesting time we live in, I know I am not the only one celebrating a milestone and adapting to significant changes this month. As we hunker down in our homes to save lives as COVID-19 continues to ravage communities and our economy, millions of people are marking their milestones indoors and online. Birthdays, proms, meetings, classes, graduations and so much more have moved every aspect of our lives to a virtual reality with our focus at home. We are physically distancing, but virtually connected, and I am grateful we have the ability to stay connected and working to make a difference in people’s lives. Today I want to share some exciting personal news with all of you. My major online milestone is starting a new job at Responsibility.org as the Vice President of Traffic Safety and Government Relations, in a completely virtual (for now) environment after 28 years of working for Washington State.
I’m a proud lifesaver! My passion and commitment to ending impaired driving began over 28 years ago with the Washington State Patrol. As a young trooper, I saw the impacts of impairment in the lives of those I arrested and witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of a fatality or serious injury crash on-scene and making next of kin notifications. Throughout my career, and most recently in my role as the Washington Governor Representative for Highway Safety and also Chair of the Governors Highway Safety Association. I have made the impassioned plea to policymakers, key influencers, and the public that they can-and must-make a difference to end impaired driving.
One of the accomplishments I am most proud of is incorporating a strong focus on addressing drug and multiple substance impaired driving into an already successful drunk driving prevention program in my state. Washington, as one of the first states to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, has built a model for other states to follow for addressing driver impairment in all forms. The issue of multiple substance-impaired driving is an issue on the rise, and it requires all of us to incorporate new elements to our efforts.
Hopefully soon this crisis will end, and we will be able to engage in life beyond our current reality. It is my hope we will have greater respect for one another and how precious life really is and a greater focus on saving lives on all fronts, especially when it comes to traffic safety. We have so much work to do to save lives on our roadways. Did you know, in 2018, impaired driving accounted for nearly 30 percent of the 36, 560 traffic deaths in the US? This represents 10,011 people who lost their lives in a preventable crash, yes preventable! Sadly, these numbers have not changed much in the last decade. Remember, these numbers represent people and families, who are lost. In looking at historical data, there was a 50 percent drop in drunk driving since 1982, a 34 percent drop since 1991, however, since 2009, we have only experienced a 3 percent reduction. Why? We have seen strong national and state policies enacted, strong advocacy groups and partnerships formed to address this ongoing plague of impaired driving and yet progress has waned.
After nearly three decades of working in the public sector, I am so excited to join the committed, talented, and passionate team at Responsibility.org, as the Vice President of Traffic Safety and Government Relations. In my new role, I will be leading efforts with law enforcement and other criminal justice practitioners, traffic safety advocates, private sector groups, Federal and state agencies and policymakers to save lives at local, state and national levels in Responsibility.org’s three mission areas: eliminating underage drinking and impaired driving and empowering adults to make responsible alcohol choices as part of a balanced lifestyle.
A core belief of Responsibility.org is the power of partnerships. To achieve our mission, it will take all of us working together, throughout the impaired driving system, to make this a reality. Responsibility.org has a number of national programs and initiatives, based on research and evaluation, to help you and your communities thrive and I look forward to telling you all about them and finding ways we can work together.
It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of this amazing team and to apply my years of law enforcement and traffic safety experience. I have been a public servant for over 28-years, and I am looking forward to working with all of you in the noblest of work, saving lives!
My family and I will continue to be proud residents of Washington State.
Please reach out to me at [email protected] and let’s talk about how we will save lives and move the needle again.
Stay healthy and safe!
Respectfully, your humble and obedient servant.
Darrin T. Grondel
O: (571) 397-2688
C: (571) 309-7615