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Latest road death sparks call for change

Campaign groups have renewed calls for action after the island recorded its thirteenth road death of the year.

Ali Bardgett, chairman of the Bermuda Road Safety Council, expressed her condolences to the friends and family of Ionel Bejan, who died on Sunday morning.

She said: “The pain of this loss never goes away; you somehow live with it.”

Ms Bardgett said changes in the law to improve safety, including graduated licensing and roadside breath tests, had been proposed for decades.

She added: “These are not new inventions. Other jurisdictions have had them in place for over 20 years.

“Our statistics for road fatalities and injuries are consistent — every year, at the very least, there is one fatality per month and between four and six people a day going to hospital for treatment following a road collision.”

Ms Bardgett added: “There cannot be many people in Bermuda who have not been affected in some way by the carnage on our roads — either left to mourn their dead, or take care of someone whose life is forever changed by injury.

“The time for change is long overdue. We aren't talking about drastic change, just commonsense measures, tried and tested solutions to be legislated as they have been for years in other countries.” Ms Bardgett said public transport improvements and carpooling could also help to improve road safety.

She was speaking after Mr Bejan, 39, known as Adrian, was killed on Sunday morning after his bike hit a shipping container on Church Street, Hamilton, in the early hours of Sunday.

Mr Bejan, a waiter originally from Romania, was yesterday described by colleagues as popular and dedicated.

His death came just a week after a crash in St George's caused the death of 30-year-old Rakai Augustus.

More roads deaths have been reported this year than in 2016 or 2015, with more than a month of the year still to go.

William Cox, of the Waterfront Group, yesterday said Mr Bejan was a dedicated and popular member of the team at Harry's Restaurant in Pembroke.

Mr Cox said: “He was an incredible guy. He was passionate about his work and his career.

“He was also extremely popular. We view our restaurants very much as a family business and the team has just been devastated by his loss.

“We are very proud of our team and how they are pulling through in the wake of this unexpected tragedy.” Nik Bhola, general manager at Coral Beach, said Mr Bejan had worked at the club for eight years and was well liked.

Mr Bhola said: “We knew him as a very hard worker, a very friendly personality who got on well with all his co-workers.

“He will be missed terribly by the many people who called him a friend.”

Anthony Santucci of alcohol awareness group Cada said the charity produced a strategy to cut roads deaths in 2008.

Among the recommendations were new laws to introduce liability for private hosts who allow their guests to drink too much and drive, as well roadside breath tests and an Alcohol Bureau of Control responsible for liquor licensing.

Mr Santucci said 117 people have died on Bermuda's roads since the changes were proposed.

He added: “If Bermudians decide they want to change their relationship with alcohol, there is a template to how we can do so that is ten years old.

“We know that on average 75 per cent of road fatalities have alcohol or some drug in their system. That hasn't changed since 2008, give or take a percentage point.”

He added: “We have to ask if we really want to fix the epidemic or don't we? If we don't, we have to accept that we will lose on average 12 people a year.”

Legislation needed: Ali Bardgett (left), chairwoman of the Bermuda Road Safety Council, said changes to law necessary (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published November 07, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated November 07, 2017 at 5:56 am)

Latest road death sparks call for change

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