Survey Says: Marijuana and Driving Don’t Mix

Skagit and Island Counties, WA – A new survey of drivers shows 7 out of 10 have used marijuana and almost half of those have recently driven within a couple of hours after marijuana use. If you or someone you know uses marijuana and drives while high, beware—extra DUI patrols are happening statewide this Holiday season between now and January 1, 2015.

According to preliminary results of a June survey measuring driver impairment on Washington’s roads, nearly 90 percent of those same drivers said they did not think marijuana degraded their driving ability, despite research showing that driving while high doubles your chance of killing yourself or others in a crash. In fact, 25 percent of those respondents felt that driving while high made them a better driver.

“It’s extremely troubling to me that so many marijuana users think that driving high is not a problem. It’s a serious problem,” said Darrin Grondel, Washington Traffic Safety Commission Director.

From 2009 through 2013, more than 1000 people died in impaired driving collisions in Washington. Impaired driving is involved in nearly half of all traffic deaths and more than 20 percent of serious injury collisions.

In addition to those tragic consequences, a DUI arrest comes with heavy penalties. A DUI arrest carries up to a year in jail, a $5,000 fine, and a loss of a driver’s license. DUI offenders can also be ordered to wear electronic ankle bracelet. Many must install an ignition interlock device, which prevents a car from starting if the driver has been drinking. Defense attorney fees can cost as much as $10,000, and insurance rates can double.

In Skagit and Island Counties, the Anacortes, Burlington, Mount Vernon, Oak Harbor, Sedro Woolley and Swinomish Tribal Police Departments, the Skagit and Island County Sheriff’s Offices, the Coupeville Marshal’s Office and the Washington State Patrol will be teaming up and participating in the extra patrols, with the support of the Skagit County Traffic Safety Task Force.

All of these extra patrols are part of Target Zero—striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030. For more information, visit

Additional information on the PIRE survey and results can be found at

State and National Highway Safety Officials Mourn the Passing of Highly Regarded Retired Research Director

OLYMPIA, WA — Former Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) Research Director Phillip M. Salzberg passed away November 8, 2014, at St. Peter’s Hospital in Olympia after undergoing heart surgery.

Phil was born in Berkeley California, on June 19, 1947. He grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He graduated from U.C. Davis with a B.A. in psychology, received a master’s degree from Sacramento State University, and went on to obtain his Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Colorado in 1974. After spending a brief period in academia with the University of Washington and City University, he turned to doing what he called ‘applied research’ for the State of Washington. In 1976, he began his professional career with the Washington Department of Motor Vehicles, later called the Department of Licensing. In 1990, he became Research Director at the WTSC, where he served until his retirement in 2006. He was a published author with many important and creative research studies and papers to his name. His research findings have informed the vast majority of Washington’s statutory and policy innovations in traffic safety for nearly forty years.

“He was a well-respected colleague, boss, mentor, and good friend to all of us who had the opportunity to know him and work with him,” said WTSC Director Darrin Grondel. “Phil’s dedication to traffic safety research shaped and guided many programs and projects that made our roads safer for Washington motorists. The love he had for this work was evident when he continued to provide input on research projects well after his retirement. Phil’s life was proof that if you love your job, it never really feels like work.”

Though he loved his research work, Phil’s family was the center of his life. He is survived by his wife, Vicki, daughters Sarah and Emily and their husbands, and four grandchildren. A celebration of Phil’s life will be held at the end of January 2015. At the family’s request, contributions in Phil’s honor can be made to Providence Animal Assisted Activities and Therapy at St. Peter’s Hospital in Olympia.

PIRE Video

Speed Knowledge and Awareness Survey

Take the survey here.

Thanks in advance for taking the time!
Director Darrin Grondel

Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation: PIRE

Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) is one of the nation’s preeminent independent, nonprofit organizations focusing on individual and social problems associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs. PIRE is dedicated to merging scientific knowledge and proven practice to create solutions that improve the health, safety, and well-being of individuals, communities, nations and the world.


Distracted Driving Footage

Washington Traffic Safety Commission distracted driving footage.

What’s Your Goal?

The term “Target Zero” means something to those who are dedicated to working for safer roads. But if the citizenry doesn’t know about the goal or about their role in achieving zero traffic deaths or serious injuries, how can it be accomplished? Washington State’s “What’s Your Goal” video was created to acquaint Washingtonians with Target Zero and explain what the average person can do to achieve Target Zero in their own family.


30-second television ad produced by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. Ad shows a series of road signs which are designed to warn drivers of the dangers of speeding.

Traffic Safety Successes on the Colville Reservation

Approximately fifty percent of the Confederated Colville Tribes’ membership live on or adjacent to the reservation. Concerted efforts in education, enforcement, engineering and emergency medical services have helped integrate traffic safety into Tribal culture. Numerous potential deaths and serious injuries have been averted.

Seat Belts & Occupant Protection

Television ad produced by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission showing the importance of always wearing a seat belt. The real-life consequences of a collision are explained through the eyes of a crash investigator.

Young Drivers

Educational video produced by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. Provides important information to teen drivers and their parents/guardians about Washington’s Intermediate Driver License (IDL) requirements.

Carrie’s Story – A Consequence of Distracted Driving

Carrie is a well-loved and respected teacher, community leader, and family member. In September, 2010, she was texting and driving when she hit her neighbor and severely injured him, changing both of their lives forever.

2014 Target Zero Awards

The 2014 Target Zero Awards took place on April 16, 2014 and honored groups and individuals who have gone above and beyond to promote traffic safety in Washington State.

2014 PTA Child Passenger Safety

Many top notch, dedicated parents think that they’ve done their job when they get their child to simply buckle his seat belt, but until a child is 4’9” tall, the seat belt doesn’t fit correctly and a child could be ejected from the vehicle in a collision or suffer severe internal injuries or a broken spine. Can you picture your child spending the rest of his life in a wheel chair because you missed this important safety step?

Chris Madill Appointed Traffic Safety Commission Deputy Director

Olympia, WA — The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) announced today that Chris Madill has been appointed Deputy Director, effective July 1.

Mr. Madill began with the agency in January 2005 as a program manager and has served as Director of the Programs and Services Division since 2012.

“We are pleased to welcome Chris into his new role as Deputy Director. He has unparalleled dedication to public service and is committed to our goal of Target Zero,” said Darrin Grondel, Director of WTSC.

Mr. Madill graduated with a degree in Psychology from Brigham Young University and received his master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University.

Campaign to Highlight “Drive High, Get a DUI”

Extra Summer DUI Patrols Kick Off July 1

(OLYMPIA, WA) With marijuana retail stores slated to open in early July, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) is launching a campaign to remind those planning on patronizing the new businesses that driving high is illegal. The campaign is called “Drive High, Get a DUI.”

The new messaging coincides with Summertime DUI emphasis patrols kicking off July 1 and will feature three 30-second television commercials. The Colorado Department of Transportation produced and aired the commercials in Colorado earlier this year as part of their efforts to combat high driving.

The ads show individuals attempting activities while high. On-screen text points out that while it’s now legal to do these things while high, it is still not legal to drive under the influence of marijuana. You can view the ads here:

Although Initiative 502 did not provide funding for public education prior to legalization, the WTSC believes this campaign is critical to preventing impaired driving.

Everyone Has a Responsibility to Keep Motorcyclists Safe

OLYMPIA — Summer is here and the Department of Licensing, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, and the Department of Transportation are reminding drivers of cars, trucks and buses to look out for, and share the road with, motorcycle riders.

To raise awareness about tragic but preventable motorcycle crashes, 17 large road signs are scheduled to be installed this summer in locations across Washington where fatal motorcycle crashes are highest. These signs should remain in place for 10 to 15 years.

“Increasing safe motorcycle riding and cooperation among all road users is essential to reaching Washington’s goal of zero traffic deaths by 2030,” Governor Jay Inslee said. “Motorists and motorcyclists are all responsible for making sure everyone arrives home safely.”

In Washington, motorcycle deaths are not steadily declining like overall traffic deaths. Motorcycles make up just 4 percent of the registered vehicles on our roads, but account for almost 15 percent of the traffic fatalities (2009-2011 average). Even worse, in 2012, motorcycle fatalities accounted for 19 percent (83 out of 438) of the total traffic fatalities in our state.

On a per-vehicle-mile basis, motorcyclists are more than 30 times more likely to die in a crash than occupants of cars, and five times more likely to be injured. Speeding, running off the road, and riding under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs are the main contributing factors in these crashes. Motorcyclists should always ride sober and within the posted speed limits, get the required training and endorsement, and wear DOT compliant helmets and protective gear.