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Erin Holmes joins our Traffic Safety team

It is 6am and I am sitting in the Ottawa International Airport for the final time. It is with great excitement that I am leaving the city I have called home for the last decade. Back when I was a new undergraduate student, I certainly could not have foreseen my leaving one capital city for another. However, I will say that I have likely plotted escape from Canadian winters for all 28 years of my existence.

The absence of -40C degree weather is not the sole reason for my excitement. On the contrary, that is a mere perk. I am very pleased to be headed to Washington, DC to join the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility in my new dual role as Director of Traffic Safety and Technical Writer for Criminal Justice Programs. In my new position, I plan to work in consultation and collaboration with partners and to develop practical solutions to eliminate both impaired driving and underage drinking.

Prior to this opportunity, I was fortunate to have served as a Research Scientist at the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) over the course of the last six and a half years. During my tenure with TIRF, I built upon my Criminology background and acquired a great deal of knowledge in the area of impaired driving. Under the guidance and mentorship of President & CEO Robyn Robertson, I was afforded many opportunities to contribute to the state of knowledge of various facets of the impaired driving field including alcohol monitoring technologies (such as alcohol interlocks, my primary area of expertise), risk assessment, and treatment. I forged partnerships with policymakers and frontline practitioners alike and worked collaboratively to improve the development and implementation of policy and programs.

Some of the most notable projects that I worked on while at TIRF were sponsored by FAAR (then Century Council). The first was a case study on the implementation of first offender alcohol interlock programs and the second was a literature review and follow-up qualitative study on female impaired driving offenders. I have long been impressed with the high standards of the research and programs that FAAR produces. The organization grounds its innovative programming in scientific literature and promulgates evidence-based practices. Moreover, the organization is on the leading edge of issues and expresses a willingness to explore topics that have received little attention in the past, such as female drunk drivers. For these reasons, I am very much looking forward to coming aboard.

As a researcher, I firmly believe that research reaches the pinnacle of its value when it is translated in a meaningful and practical way, leading to real-world change at the operational level. To put this quite simply, research must be translated in a way that makes it most applicable and useful to a diverse range of audiences. At FAAR, I endeavour to continue impaired driving knowledge transfer efforts. I hope to collaborate with traffic safety and criminal justice partners, both old and new, in order to turn knowledge into practice with the ultimate goal of realizing that real-world change.

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