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Hersman leaving NTSB to lead National Safety Council

New NSC president and CEO Deborah Hersman, shown here during the 2013 Truckload Carriers Association convention in Las Vegas, was first appointed to the NTSB in 2004 by former President George W. Bush. (The Trucker: LYNDON FINNEY)

The Trucker News Services

3/12/2014

ITASCA, Ill. — National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman is leaving the agency to become president and CEO of the National Safety Council (NSC), the 100-year-old organization chartered by Congress to prevent unintentional injury and death.

Hersman will be joining NSC at its headquarters in this Chicago suburb.

“Deborah Hersman 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 NSC board of directors. “Her proven leadership and expertise made her the ideal candidate to take the Council successfully into its second century.”

Hersman said she was “thrilled’ to have the opportunity to lead the NSC, noting the organization’s dedication to saving lives and preventing injuries.

“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 said.

Hersman is acknowledged as a visionary and passionate safety leader who advocates for safety across all modes of transportation, Woodbury said. At NTSB she has been on-scene for more than 20 major transportation accidents, chaired scores of NTSB hearings, forums and events and regularly testifies before Congress.

Hersman was first appointed as a NTSB board member by President George W. Bush in 2004 and was reappointed to two additional five-year terms by President Barack Obama in 2009 and 2013.

She was appointed chairman by Obama in 2009, 2011 and 2013 with unanimous Senate confirmation votes. Previously, Hersman was a senior advisor to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation from 1999-2004 and served as staff director and senior legislative aide to former Rep. Bob Wise, D-W.Va., from 1992 to 1999.

Hersman will continue to lead the NTSB until April 25. Vice Chairman Christopher Hart will serve as acting chairman upon her departure.

“I look back at the hundreds of investigations and recommendations that have been issued during my tenure at the NTSB, and I have seen the landscape of transportation safety improve before my eyes,” Hersman wrote Tuesday in a blog on the NTSB website.   “Today training standards for transportation professionals are more rigorous, federal safety oversight exists for the rail transit industry, work schedules for pilots, locomotive engineers and truck drivers allow for more rest opportunities, the majority of states ban texting behind the wheel, and all but two states have passed booster seat laws for young children.  These changes and so many other safety improvements are the result of industry, labor, advocates, regulators and legislators all working in their particular spheres of influence to make travel safer for people that don’t always appreciate the risks they face. The NTSB and often, the families of victims, have served as critical catalysts for bringing about change after a terrible accident. 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.”

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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