National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman climbed aboard a Con-way Truckload tractor yesterday afternoon on her way to the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY.

Hersman will travel with five different professional drivers on her way to the show from her Washington, D.C. office. She will participate in a special Women in Trucking “Salute to Women Behind the Wheel” event on Saturday, April 2, in Louisville.

Boarding her first truck, a 2011 Kenworth T660 long-haul tractor driven by Stephanie Klang, Hersman, herself holder of a commercial driver’s license, will ride with female drivers from Schneider, UPS, U.S. Xpress, and Walmart on her journey.

“I’m excited to join these drivers for a real-world view of the challenges they face every day on the road,” said Hersman. “The skill and professionalism drivers bring to the job are essential to maintaining the highest level of safety on our nation’s highways.”

During the ride-along, Hersman will see first-hand what a truck driver goes through each day, including a Level 1 roadside inspection at a Maryland weigh station, and a visit to a travel center in West Virginia. She will also find time to hold meetings with transportation officials and safety advocates in two separate roundtable discussions in West Virginia and Kentucky and participate in two listening sessions, one with industry safety officials and one with professional drivers from across the industry.

The “Salute to Women Behind the Wheel” begins at 1 p.m. EDT at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville.