WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) now has a chairman with a school bus endorsement.
Deborah Hersman, nominated for the two-year term as chairman by President Obama, was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in in late July.
In the prior week, two NTSB members, Mark Rosenker and Kathryn “Kitty” Higgins, had submitted their letters of resignation.
Hersman was also nominated and confirmed for a second five-year term as a member of the NTSB. She joined the board in June 2004.
“The NTSB is an outstanding organization that commands respect across the globe for its comprehensive investigations of transportation accidents,” Hersman said. “I am grateful to have this extraordinary opportunity to lead a talented, dedicated staff to make a world-class organization even better.”
Hersman is no stranger to the pupil transportation industry. The major accidents for which she has served as the board’s representative include the November 2006 school bus crash in Huntsville, Ala., and the April 2005 collision of a school bus with a trash truck in Arlington, Va.
Interestingly, her credentials include a CDL with a school bus endorsement. She is also a certified child passenger safety technician.
In 2007, Hersman addressed the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) in a Webcast on school bus safety. She discussed several pupil transportation accidents that the NTSB has investigated, including the March 2000 bus-train crash near Conasauga, Tenn., in which three children were killed.
Following its investigation of that accident, the NTSB issued 10 recommendations on improving school bus and grade crossing safety.
North Carolina state pupil transportation director Derek Graham, who worked with Hersman on the NASDPTS Webcast, said, “I’m glad to know that the new chair will have lots of experience relevant to our industry: CDL P/S, child passenger safety technician certification, her presence in Huntsville representing NTSB, and the fact that she is the mother of three.”
Rosenker joined the agency in March 2003 and had served as chairman or acting chairman since 2005.
During his tenure, the agency marked a number of major transportation safety achievements. Three significant items were removed from the NTSB’s “Most Wanted” list: airliner fuel tank flammability, positive train control and rail fatigue. The board also added important issues to the list, including cell phone use by bus drivers and school bus passenger safety.
Higgins was an NTSB member since January 2006. She was the board member on scene at several major accident investigations, and she chaired the NTSB hearing into the fire on a motorcoach in Texas that killed 23 elderly patients being evacuated from Hurricane Rita in September 2005.