Road toll up as year draws to close

The road toll for the year stands at 318 - more than 40 higher than the 2011 tally.

Last year saw the lowest toll in 50 years, with 284 killed on the nation's roads.

Four people have died during this holiday period, which started at 4pm on Christmas Eve and will finish at 6am on Thursday.

On Friday, Scott Addison (22) was killed at Ngapara, near Oamaru. Police said Mr Addison lost control of his car which slammed into a tree. Preliminary inquiries indicated speed and alcohol were major contributing factors in the crash.

Just after midday on Christmas Day the first fatality was recorded when Chinese national Rongmei Wang was killed in a two-car collision in Hamilton.

On Boxing Day, father-of-one Shane Curtis Tosh, 24, died when his Honda left the Dacre-Lorneville road north of Invercargill.

Mr Tosh was the sole occupant of the car, which flipped and landed in a paddock about 6.30am. The funeral was being held today for the meat plant employee.

Just hours after Mr Tosh died, a 58-year-old Taumaranui man was killed when his car careered down a bank. Police are yet to name him.

A 23-year-old man from North Canterbury remains in a critical condition after being thrown from his vehicle when it crashed into a pole early on Friday.

The accident happened in the town of Harwarden, near Lake Sumner Forest Park just after midnight.

The car came to rest about 40m down the road after the crash.

Meanwhile, 16-year-old Rowan Cai Parker was farewelled today in Owaka, in the Catlins.

The popular student was killed last week when he lost control of a quad bike in the Chaslands area of South Otago and drove over a cliff - falling 150m on to rocks.

His death did not count towards the official holiday road toll as the crash did not happen on public roads.

Neither did the death of 3-year-old Te Haeata Pitiroi, who was run over in a Hatepe driveway south of Taupo on Christmas Eve.

STAY SAFE

* Slow down in communities, on rural roads, and drive to the conditions.

* Don't drive after consuming any amount of alcohol or taking drugs, and be careful about driving the morning after drinking by planning ahead.

* Always wear a seatbelt, make sure everyone else in the vehicle is wearing a seatbelt and that children are in correctly-fitted child restraints. Also make sure you have done vehicle checks such as checking lights, tyres, mirrors and windscreen wipers before setting off.

* Have your phone switched off or on silent and out of reach. Minimise other distractions.

* Take breaks every two hours on long journeys. Don't drive if you are tired, ill or stressed.

- Rebecca Quilliam of APNZ

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