Are we safe?

By Dale Landrith Sr. | Jul 11, 2019

On Monday morning, June 24, I was making an overnight business trip to the northern Adirondack Mountains in New York. The weather was decent and the expected tourist traffic was not too bad. Wending my way through the western mountains of Maine and into New Hampshire, my thoughts were only on the trip before me and enjoying an area that I love to experience. Heading west a short ways out of Gorham, N.H., the traffic slowed and there seemed to be something causing the proverbial rubbernecking. To my astonishment, I had come upon the scene of a horrific motorcycle crash of the previous Friday. The scars and stains upon the roadway provided a vivid picture of what had transpired. The embankment on the opposite side of the road showed graphic evidence of the crash and the burning of the pickup truck. My mood went from enjoying a drive to one of somber reflection on the horror experienced by those bikers.

The image of that short trip through the accident site and my return trip on the same road has stayed with me. Scores of miniature flags were placed along the road, with folks walking along the shoulder, including some who looked very much like family. Having read many articles about the crash, one thing stands out very clearly: the man, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, should have not been driving that truck, or any vehicle, for that matter. He had numerous traffic accidents, an OUI driving conviction, and a drug-related arrest. The Department of Motor Vehicles in Massachusetts had completely messed up.

It has been revealed that the Massachusetts DMV had thousands of notifications from other states that had not been processed over an extended length of time. The government agency charged with the safety of its citizens was not competent in keeping them safe. In addition, the company that owns the pickup truck and trailer Zhukovskyy was driving has a very suspect history of safety violations itself. Twenty percent of its safety inspections turned up deficiencies. Its DOT permit should probably have been suspended long ago. The system failed those bikers. One would hope that Maine has the necessary checks and balances in place to make sure that we do not have the same problem here.

Having reviewed a number of court cases, I found what I have observed over many years, in that the legal system does not necessarily protect us from serious and habitual repeat offenders. Many times in court cases we see that someone is convicted and then all sentencing is suspended. This does very little to deter someone from committing the same act again. Frequently we observe that people are charged with driving with a suspended license, and it goes without saying that they had a disregard for the conviction for the first offense.

There should be severe repercussions for driving with a suspended license. There is also a new terror on the highway. Not all that long ago, when reading about an OUI offense, the listing would simply say “OUI”. Now it reads “OUI alcohol.” Why the change? There are now new categories because of substance abuse, which is primarily caused by the legalization of marijuana.

It should not be unreasonable to expect that more can be done to keep us safe on the road. All of the defensive driving techniques ever suggested would not have prevented what happened to those bikers. The person who crosses the center line could very well be any one of us. With the technology available today, laws could be in place that allow for cross-checking between traffic offenses and drug offenses. Those cited for drug offenses or driving violations could be reviewed to see if the offender is a danger on the road. I suspect that the family and friends of those seven New Hampshire bikers would support more of an effort to keep folks safe.

Comments (7)
Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Jul 14, 2019 16:27

That's right, Harold.



"...   Trump repealed an initiative last February that that would have made it harder for people with mental illness to buy a gun.

The Obama-era regulation, which was enacted after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, would have required the Social Security Administration to send records of beneficiaries with severe mental disabilities to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The measure would have affected about 75,000 people found mentally incapable of managing their financial affairs."

"The House voted in February 2017 to overturn the Obama Administration rule, one of several regulations instituted by the former president that were undone last year using a law known as the Congressional Review Act. "

Posted by: Harold Bryson Mosher | Jul 14, 2019 04:43

Let me get this straight.  In the USA some of the mentally ill can get treatment but they can all buy firearms?


Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jul 13, 2019 11:20

Driving is a privilege not a right. Drivers refuse a blood test for one reason, fear of failure. With implied consent they can get the charge reduced to driving to endanger. They lose their license but they don't have an oui on their record. Not everyone takes this route because it is quite costly.

Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Jul 13, 2019 06:50

Well, Dale, I am also a "supporter" of the second amendment but with reservations.  I believe in the "well regulated" part.  But we can't blame the medical community nor the ACLU for guns in the hands of the mentally ill.  It was trump who canceled Obama's order to prevent the sale of guns to those with a history of mental illness.  What was the purpose of that?  If we need to keep drunks and drug addicts off our roads then why give the mentally ill "rights" they can't handle and that endanger us all.  How many deaths could all such prohibitions have prevented?

Posted by: Daniel G Benson | Jul 12, 2019 22:24

Actually the Maine law for OUI (for other than alcohol - i.e. drugs) has been around for 29 years. It became effective July 14th 1990. The OUI per se law became effective Sept 18th 1981. I think the next one next should be OUI - DD (not Dunkin Donuts; but Distracted Driving!).

Posted by: Dale E. Landrith Sr. | Jul 12, 2019 19:26


I am an ardent supporter of the 2nd Amendment to the U S Constitution.  However, I completely agree that those with mental health problems should have their ability to possess firearms suspended or terminated.  I believe that the medical community and the ACLU have been stonewalling mental health professionals from cross checking with each other.

Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Jul 11, 2019 16:50

Well, Dale, wonder upon wonders.  Once again we agree.  Flagrant offenders should never be given the opportunity to repeatedly flout the law and inflict harm on others.  Operating a motor vehicle can be a dangerous venture and society certainly has the right to " cross-check between traffic offenses and drug offenses" if it is to make our highways safe for us all. The past is prologue after all.

But I would go even further.  Lately on the news there is the story of a young man who tried to kill a family member by ambushing them with a firearm.  In his defense the young man's attorney has mentioned that he has had mental health issues in the past.  Like the driver of the pickup truck however his past problems didn't stop him from committing a dangerous act nor did it prevent anyone from selling him dangerous firearms.

If, as you seem to be saying, society has a right to use a person's past offenses or problems as a preventive warning to his or her future harmful actions shouldn't we look at all such offenses and measure the individual's suitability for bearing a dangerous responsibility?

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