New Chair takes the helm as Association debuts updated policies and priorities
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Dr. Darrin Grondel, Director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC), was elected to chair the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) at the Association’s Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia late last month. Grondel will serve a one-year term for GHSA, the national nonprofit association of the state and territorial agencies that address behavioral traffic safety issues.
In this role, Grondel will work to advocate for and achieve GHSA’s policies and priorities, which the Association recently enhanced to reflect evolving traffic safety issues. Chief among these changes are provisions addressing substance-impaired driving, preparing for autonomous vehicle technologies, and ensuring the safety of all road users.
According to Grondel, the updates will guide the Association as it works toward zero deaths on America’s roadways. “With so many emerging threats, states need to focus on the basics of saving lives by ministering strong programs rather than administering bureaucracy.”
Having participated in the process of Washington’s implementation of legalized recreational marijuana sales, Grondel is dedicated to elevating the issue of drug-impaired driving. GHSA’s updated policy statements reflect the latest science and expert consensus to address drugged driving, including zero tolerance laws for illicit drugs, use of electronic warrants, and marijuana open container laws. GHSA policy also recognizes that the best available research has not identified a scientifically sound illegal per se limit for marijuana.
“Impairment is impairment, regardless of the substance,” Grondel said. “Combating this growing problem means having the research, funding and tools to effectively educate the public and equip and energize law enforcement.”
Also included in the Association’s new policies and priorities is a renewed encouragement for research, testing, and the deployment of connected, autonomous, and advanced driver assistance technologies. GHSA also adopted additional support for infrastructure-based countermeasures to promote the safety of bicyclists, pedestrians, and all other road users.
During his term as Chair, Grondel will advance GHSA’s policies by developing new and reinforcing existing partnerships, expanding member services and member involvement, and collaborating with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to carry out the national highway safety grant program. Prior to his election, Grondel was a member of the Association’s Executive Board for multiple terms and served as Secretary for the past three years. He has led WTSC since 2012 following a 25-year career with the Washington State Patrol.
Joining Grondel as GHSA Executive Officers for the upcoming year are Vice Chair Harris Blackwood, Director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety; Secretary Lauren Stewart, Director of the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety; and Treasurer Lee Axdahl, Director of the South Dakota Office of Highway Safety.
A complete copy of the policies and priorities document can be found at ghsa.org/sites/default/files/2018-09/policies18.pdf. A printed version will be mailed to all GHSA members.
# # #
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit www.ghsa.org. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GHSAhq or follow us on Twitter @GHSAHQ.