A driving force behind trucking safety at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Deborah M. "Debbie" Freund, died Thursday of metastatic breast cancer. She was 57.
Freund was a senior transportation specialist at the FMCSA for nearly 15 years, and at the time of her death was National Technical Expert for Vehicle Research. During that time, she served 10 years as a member of the Transportation Research Board Freight Transportation Economics and Regulation Committee.
Her regulatory development responsibilities included safety of commercial vehicle parts and accessories, driver hours-of-service, and motor carrier operations and compliance issues. She also developed and managed major research studies on driver fatigue and alertness and on new applications for vehicle sensor and communications technologies.
Freund received her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Master of Science, Transportation and Urban Systems from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.
Her career began at the council of state governments in Kansas City as a transportation planner. She later worked for the Federal Highway Administration at the Turner Fairbank Research Center before going to work at the Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C.
She was active in the Society of Automotive Engineers, including organizing and co-organizing many SAE Commercial Vehicle Congress sessions. She was asked to deliver SAE's prestigious Buckendale Lecture at the annual Commercial Vehicle Meeting a few years ago and received the McFarland Award for her contributions to SAE and the industry.
She also was a fellow with the Institute of Transportation Engineers and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Although she was not a member of the American Trucking Associations' Technology & Maintenance Council, she was a frequent sight at meetings, participating in everything from Task Force sessions to Technical Sessions.
"Debbie has been the brains and heart of the key trucking regulations, including most recently the e-log rule," says HDT Washington Editor Oliver Patton. "She’s been a true champion for truck safety."
She spoke last year to the Truck Writers of North America at their annual awards banquet on the topic of "Trucking Through the Government 101: Who Does What?"
"Debbie was a creative problem solver, a strong leader and a good friend to the trucking industry," says Paul Abelson, a longtime TWNA member and trucking reporter who worked with Freund on SAE and TMC panels. "She will be missed."
Married to Douglas White for 33 years, they lived for 30 years in Dunn Loring, Va. White says she loved live theater, concerts, hiking, birding, gardening, kayaking, bicycling, traveling, and practiced yoga since 2001. She was the chair for her local university alumni club.
There will be a memorial service on Sunday, September 14, at 2 p.m. at Murphy Funeral Home, 1102 W. Broad Street, Falls Church, VA. The family requests that donations be made in her name to the SAE Foundation at http://foundation.sae.org/.