WASHINGTON, D.C. — Deborah Hersman, who has worked closely in school bus safety matters throughout her nearly 10 years at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), will step down from her chairman position in April.
Hersman will leave the federal accident investigation agency to become president and CEO of the National Safety Council, a nonprofit organization that works to prevent injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road.
Mike Martin, executive director of the National Association for Pupil Transportation, told SBF that Hersman has shown keen insight into the safety processes of student transportation during her tenure at NTSB.
“Debbie Hersman not only understands what we do as a system to safely transport children to and from school, she also understands how and why. That’s a primary reason she has been and will surely continue to be a very effective advocate for continuous improvement in school transportation,” Martin said. “I wish her well, and I look forward to working with her in her new capacity at the helm of the National Safety Council.”
Hersman has served as an NTSB board member since June 2004. She has been appointed to three consecutive two-year terms as chairman of the agency, beginning in 2009.
Hersman — whose credentials include a CDL with a school bus endorsement — has been the board’s representative at more than 20 major accidents, including 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.
More recently, Hersman and her fellow NSTB board members made recommendations to pupil transportation associations and other organizations based on the NTSB’s investigation of the 2012 fatal school bus and truck crash near Chesterfield, N.J.
NTSB Vice Chairman Christopher Hart spoke highly of Hersman’s leadership of the agency.
“She has focused our attention and actions on addressing a variety of transportation safety issues, including fatigue and distraction in all modes of transportation, eliminating impaired driving, improving child passenger safety, and helping accident victims and their families,” Hart said. “I know I speak for the whole agency when I say we will miss Chairman Hersman's passion, dedication and leadership, but we look forward to working with her in her new capacity, as she continues to make our country a safer place for everyone."
In a Tuesday post on her NTSB blog, Hersman discussed her work with the agency and her upcoming role with the National Safety Council.
“It has been an honor to be associated with a noble mission that has at times inspired and evoked passion and, at other times, been in the crosshairs of controversy, as real change doesn’t come without a cost,” Hersman wrote. “I look forward to continuing to improve the safety landscape with the board of directors and employees of the National Safety Council, another organization dedicated to saving lives and preventing injuries.”
Hersman will continue to lead the NTSB until her departure on April 25. Vice Chairman Hart will then serve as acting chairman.