The National Transportation Safety Board on Thursday released its final report into a pickup truck driver's crash into an oncoming group of motorcyclists in New Hampshire last year, leading to the death of seven bikers.
The board found that the fiery crash, on a rural, two-lane highway in Randolph, was probably caused by the truck crossing the road's centerline while the driver was impaired on multiple drugs. Contributing were his trucking company's "substantial disregard for and egregious noncompliance with safety regulations" and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles' failure to revoke the driver's license after he'd had driving privileges revoked in another state.
A draft of the report was unanimously approved earlier this month. The driver, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, has pleaded not guilty to negligent homicide and driving under the influence and remains in custody ahead of a trial next year.
The Massachusetts resident was returning from delivering vehicles for Westfield Transport and was towing an empty flatbed trailer when the the crash happened June 21, 2019.
NTSB investigators told the board that Zhukovskyy had drugs, including opioids, in his system. They also said witnesses had reported him driving erratically.
Among the recommendation in the NTSB final report is one for the Registry of Motor Vehicles, which faced a reckoning in the wake of the crash over chronic backlogs in the processing of notifications sent by other states of infractions by Massachusetts drivers.
The NTSB recommended that the agency put together "appropriate metrics and establish a process to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of [its] processing of out-of-state notifications."