State highway safety leaders are meeting this week with congressional staffers and NHTSA to discuss safety and security issues involved with the reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) next year.

In addition to restructuring federal highway transit and motor carrier programs, TEA-21 authorized $2.3 billion for highway safety grant programs for fiscal years 1998-2003. The National Association of Governors' Highway Safety Representatives (NAGHSR) wants to continue that funding as it also aids homeland security efforts.

NAGHSR chairman Marsha Lembke said a two-week, multi-state seat belt enforcement campaign last May in the Southeast netted over 1,400 fugitives, along with 8,000 arrests for DUI.

"These are just a couple instances of the key role traffic safety plays in our broader security effort," she said.

NAGHSR said it wants Congress to continue full funding of traffic safety programs and consider additional funding for law enforcement efforts when TEA-21 is re-authorized in 2003.