Police hope to keep this year's Easter road toll at three as
they crack down on speeding, distracted and alcohol-fuelled
drivers as holiday makers head home.
The long weekend got off to a bad start on the roads, with
three deaths within the first 12 hours of the holiday period.
Another three people died as a result of crashes on Thursday
before the start of the official road toll period.
There was some confusion about the time of one of those
deaths, and the road toll was earlier reported as being four.
Acting road policing national manager Inspector Nic Brown
hoped the toll would not increase tomorrow.
Police would be out in force on the roads as holiday makers
"What we know is there is going to be a higher number of
vehicles on the road and the distances that people are
travelling will be further as they are returning from their
"We know people are going to make mistakes but the thing is,
it shouldn't cost anybody their life or limb," Mr Brown said.
"The indication is with those three fatalities and I don't
want to speculate on specific cases it does come back to your
speed, whether you're wearing a restraint or not. It's really
Last year's road Easter road toll was also three, while there
were no deaths in 2012. The highest recorded number of deaths
is 21 in 1971.
As with other holiday periods, police have lowered their
tolerance of speeding drivers to 4km/h, and Mr Brown
encouraged drivers to watch their speed and give themselves
time to react.
Auckland's motorways are expected to be busy, though perhaps
not as congested as previous Easter Mondays.
NZ Transport Agency spokesman Ewart Barnsley said with school
holidays beginning and another public holiday on Friday, many
travellers might put off their return to the city.
He expected congestion around Wellsford on State Highway 1,
and in northern Waikato on SH1 and SH2.
"We do encourage drivers coming back into Auckland from up
north to consider using SH16 as an alternative route."
All roads in the Auckland and Northland regions were open but
Mr Barnsley advised motorists to take extreme care for damage
caused by Cyclone Ita.
"There's still the risk of small slips or surface flooding or
trees or branches that night have been shaken by the strong
winds, which cold potentially be a hazard for driving,
particularly at night."
Elsewhere in the North Island, a slip has blocked SH16 near
Rotorua, between Dudley Rd to Hamurana Junction, although it
could re-open tomorrow. Heavy wind warnings are in place for
the Desert Rd and SH2 over Rimutaka Hill.
In the South Island, a slip on SH1 between Blenheim and
Kaikoura has traffic down to one lane.
*Easter road toll so far (holiday period starts at 4pm
Thursday and finishes at 6am Tuesday).
- Yulane Cadigan, a 44-year-old woman from Twizel died died
in a crash on the Fairlie-Tekapo Rd in South Canterbury about
5.20pm on Thursday.
* Helensville woman Alofaifo Afaese, 40, died instantly when
the Mitsubishi Pajero she was travelling in with her husband
and two of their children was involved in a head-on collision
on SH16 west of Kumeu at 7pm on Thursday.
* About 3.15am on Friday, pedestrian Alan Hammond, 80, of
Ashburton, was struck by a vehicle on the Hinds-Rangitata
Highway in South Canterbury.
- Jimmy Ellingham of APNZ