National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman announced today she is stepping down from her presidential appointment to become president and CEO of the National Safety Council. The move is effective April 25.
NTSB said Vice Chairman Christopher Hart, who spoke before NAPT and NASDPTS delegates last fall in Grand Rapids, Mich., will serve as acting chairman. Hersman's current term was to run through August.
In a blog post this morning, Hersman wrote she is leaving NTSB "with the knowledge that the traveling public is the beneficiary of an accountable, transparent government agency with a great mission focused on saving lives and preventing injuries."
She added that she has been lucky enough to have not only one "dream job" at NTSB but also another awaiting her at NSC, and is "thrilled to have the opportunity."
"The National Safety Council vision of 'making our world safer' has the potential to improve every workplace, every community and the way we travel every day," she added.
Hersman will join the 101-year-old nonprofit safety advocate at its headquarters in Itasca, Ill., a suburb of Chicago.
"Debbie is a recognized leader in safety, with a frontline understanding of the value of protecting human life through thoughtful attention and management of risk," said Jeff Woodbury, chairman of the NSC board of directors. "Her proven leadership and expertise made her the ideal candidate to take the Council successfully into its second century."
Hersman was first appointed to the NTSB Board in 2004 and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate, with reconfirmations occurring in 2009 and 2011. She was again appointed by President Obama in 2013 and was again confirmed. She holds a CDL with a school bus passenger endorsement, and oversaw several key studies of school bus safety during her tenure. She was the on-scene NTSB board spokesperson for the 2006 fatal Huntsville, Ala., crash and the fatal 2005 collision between a trash track and s school bus in Arlington, Va.
She represented NTSB at a 2007 school bus seat belt summit hosted by NHTSA in Washington, D.C., that was televised on C-SPAN. The event led to a final rule being published in the fall of 2008 and approved the following spring. The rule requires all newly manufactured Type A school buses as of September 2011 to be equipped with three-point/lap shoulder restraints. It also lays forth requirements for the voluntary installation of three-point restraints in large buses.
Earlier in 2007, Hersman joined NASDPTS members for a Webcast that reviewed NTSB's Most Wanted Safety Recommendations, which included school bus occupant restraints.
Prior to joining NTSB, Hersman was a senior professional staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation from 1999 to 2004. She was responsible for the legislative agenda and policy initiatives affecting surface transportation issues, including economic and safety regulation of railroads, trucks, buses, pipelines and hazardous materials transportation. Prior to that appointment, she served as staff director and senior legislative aide to former Congressman Bob Wise (D-WV) from 1992 to 1999.