National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman spent nearly four days recently immersed in activities to help her better understand the trucking industry.

Hersman traveled from her office in Washington, D.C., to the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., the last week of March, riding with five different professional drivers who shared their thoughts. "It was an honor to meet Chairman Hersman," said Jill Garcia, 15-year driver with Schneider National. "She was very attentive to my input and concerns," she added.

Prior to addressing the audience at the Women In Trucking Salute to Women Behind the Wheel on Saturday, April 2, Hersman sat down with the WIT's driver advisory committee and members of the American Trucking Associations' America's Road Team to listen to their thoughts about safety issues on the road.

They discussed parking issues, hours of service and fatigue.

"The opportunity to meet with Chairman Hersman went beyond my expectations," said Sherri Fronko, Wilcox Trucking and 20-year veteran driver. "She is a real person who listened and cared about what the driver advisory committee had to say."

Angel Grider, who drives for Con-way freight, said, "I appreciated the candor in which she spoke. Due to her ride along, I admired her newfound respect for the American trucker. I felt like she truly was looking for feedback, not just platitudes, and as a result I believe we may have been able to get her to see both sides."

Hersman told the drivers, "I know it's all in a day's journey for you. I also recognize that two days on the road doesn't a trucker make. My trip was just a small glimpse into your world and I don't understand everything about your lives. But I definitely have a lot more respect for the hard-working professional truck driver."

The National Transportation Safety Board does not have any rulemaking power of its own. It is an independent government agency that investigates transportation accidents and makes recommendations to other agencies.