Holiday road toll matches worst in past decade

A fatal crash involving a truck and motorbike in Canterbury this morning has raised the holiday weekend road toll to eight - making this among the worst Labour Weekends on New Zealand roads over the past decade.

Police said the motorcyclist died as a result of the 9.45am crash on the Rakaia River Bridge on State Highway 1 in Selwyn.

The road was closed for a time but reopened this afternoon.

The eight deaths so far this long weekend match last year's road toll. Prior to that, there hadn't been eight deaths during the Labour Day weekend since 2011.

Also in Canterbury this morning, a pedestrian was hit by a truck on State Highway 1 at Kaiapoi. That person was critically injured, police said.

Police yesterday urged motorists to slow down.

"It's already been a horrific holiday weekend on the country's roads and a number of families have been changed forever," said Superintendent Steve Greally, director of the National Road Policing Centre.

"While our investigators work to understand how these crashes occurred, preliminary information tells us alcohol, speed, no seatbelts, distractions and poor decisions are likely to feature, and the consequences have proved to be devastating."

Police said they expected the roads to be very busy today with traffic and delays across the country as people head home from the long weekend.

"Please keep calm and be patient on the road, and accept that some delays are likely on your journey home," Greally said.

"Plan ahead, watch your speed and following distances, pay attention to the conditions, stop and take a break if you're feeling fatigued, and allow plenty of time for a safe trip home."

Police issued the Sunday statement after two people died in a crash that morning on State Highway 14 near Wheki Valley in Whang─ürei. Three others were injured.

On Saturday, a person died after falling from a moving vehicle on Clevedon-Kawakawa Rd in Kawakawa Bay just before 7pm.

Two people died after a two-car crash near Waihola, Otago, on Saturday morning. Three others were injured, two seriously and one moderately.

On Friday, a motorcyclist died at the scene after colliding with a car in Burnham, Christchurch, and a woman died after being hit by a truck in Hawke's Bay.

The woman, a mother from Napier, was hit by a truck-and-trailer horse float between Hastings and Waipawa.

It is the first fatality on Hawke's Bay roads in more than four months, and the Herald understands the driver was transporting horses that had competed in events at the Hastings showgrounds.

The Labour Day weekend holiday road toll period started at 4pm on Friday and ends at 6am tomorrow.

"Police can't be everywhere all of the time, " Greally said. "Drivers need to take responsibility for their actions when operating a vehicle and focus on getting everybody in their vehicle to their destination safely."

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