WASHINGTON - The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) said it is urging Congress to quickly extend the Highway Trust Fund authorization, which expired Feb. 28, to ensure the continuation of highway safety programs. 

"As a result of the failure to extend, federal behavioral highway safety programs, along with federal highway and motor carrier safety programs, are significantly affected," said Barbara Harsha, executive director of GHSA. "For GHSA members who administer programs addressing driver behavior issues such as drunk driving, seat belt enforcement, speeding and distracted driving, the lack of either a short- or long-term authorization means state reimbursements are not being processed, and it is impossible for states to execute strategic programs." 

Moreover, numerous staff members at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), including those in the NHTSA regional offices who work closely with GHSA members, are furloughed, Harsha said. 

The most recent long-term highway funding authorization expired Sept. 30, 2009. Since then, states have been operating under a series of short-term authorizations. 

"In addition to immediately remedying this current funding crisis, Congress needs to pass a long-term authorization so state agencies are not continually operating with such tremendous uncertainty," Harsha said. 

The GHSA is a nonprofit group representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.