GHSA Urges Congress to Unfetter State Highway Safety Efforts

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News Releases

June 29, 2020

CONTACT: Russ Martin, 202-789-0945,

Congress should provide more funding, allow new programs and cut red tape

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With far too many people continuing to die in preventable traffic crashes, John Saunders, Director of Highway Safety Services at the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, will join with other highway safety stakeholders on Tuesday, June 30 to tell the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety that Congress must do more to remove program constraints that hamper the ability of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), State and local governments and the highway safety community to implement lifesaving programs. Saunders, who will represent GHSA, will also provide an overview of the national traffic safety landscape, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our nation’s roadways.

“One hundred people die on our roadways every single day,” said Russ Martin, GHSA’s Senior Director of Policy and Government Relations. “We can’t afford to have NHTSA and the State Highway Safety Offices hamstrung by complex program rules, arbitrary federal guidelines on what highway safety programs they can implement and other administrative burdens. Lives are on the line.”

Federal highway grant programs are fragmented into numerous smaller programs, each with separate, complex eligibility requirements and limits on how the funding may be used. States are awarded funding for having lifesaving highway safety laws, but many states have been denied grant awards because their state laws do not exactly match complex federal standards.

“Congress also needs to invest more in highway safety across all modes,” said Martin. “Without broad investment in federal and state highway safety programs that address the needs of all roadway users, there is no way we will ever get close to zero fatalities on our roadways.”

Saunders has served as Director of Highway Safety for the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles since 2003 and is a member of the agency’s Executive Staff. He also represents the Virginia DMV Commissioner as a Commission member of the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program. Saunders has been as a member of GHSA’s Executive Board since 2006. He currently represents the member states in NHTSA’s Region Three and previously served as Vice-Chair.

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The hearing, “Safety on Our Roads: Overview of Traffic Safety and NHTSA Grant Programs,” will begin at 2:30pm ET and will be webcast live at:

About GHSA

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 Find us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter @GHSAHQ.