BOSTON — The company that employed a driver accused of killing seven motorcyclists in a New Hampshire crash had a shaky safety and compliance record, according to transportation expert's review of reports.
Joe Mokrisky, a transportation advisor and member of the National Safety Council, says the issue of safety should have been front and center at Westfield Transport, based in West Springfield, Massachusetts, long before Friday's crash involving its 23-year-old driver, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy.
"Red flags, violations. Violations that were too many for the type that they were having," Mokrisky said.
A Safety Measurement System report shows the company had a driver out of service rate of 20 percent, almost 15 percent higher than the national average of five percent.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Westfield Transport manages five vehicles with five trailers and has had 45 inspections in the past 24 months.
Over that 2-year time period, the company has been cited for 65 violations, which include unsafe driving, compliance, driver fitness and vehicle maintenance citations. Just 7 of the violations are for unsafe driving and 11 are for driver fitness issues.
Mokrisky said that's a lot for a company with just five trucks.
Nothing contained in the report disqualifies Westfield Transport from service as the company was still licensed to transport and has not been ordered to discontinue operations by the FMCSA.
The unsafe driving violations include two instances of failing to maintain lane, failure to obey traffic control device, unlawfully parking or leaving a vehicle in the roadway, two speeding violations and one instance of having an unauthorized passenger on board.
The driver fitness citations include operating a commercial vehicle without a commercial driver's license, operating a commercial vehicle without the right commercial driver's license, driving a commercial vehicle while suspended for safety reasons, five instances of driving without the right certificates and two instances of a driver in possession of narcotics while driving. Those drug violations happened within three days of each other in March.
"When you look at this, in my experience, all the bread crumbs lead to a compliance program that was failing," Mokrisky said. "It shouldn't take a tragedy like this to put a focus on this issue."
We pulled Zhukovskyy's driving record and found two OUI arrests, two license suspensions and multiple at-fault accidents. One of those OUIs happened just weeks before the tragic crash.
According to police in Baytown, Texas, Zhukovskyy was arrested at a Denny's restaurant around 2 a.m. back in February.
Just weeks ago, police in Texas say Zhukovskyy was involved in a roll-over crash with his car hauler tractor trailer. He told police he was cut off by a car and over-steered and flipped over. He was working for FBI Express Incorporated out of Westfield at the time. He was not cited and did not appear to be under the influence, police said.
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