5 Jan 2009

Motorists warned to take care as road toll hits 20

6:03 am on 5 January 2009

Police are urging motorists heading back from their holidays on Sunday to drive with care, as the holiday road toll reaches 20.

Police were expecting large volumes of traffic on the roads throughout the country on Sunday.

But Inspector Tony Edwards, of the Northern Police Commincations Centre, said traffic on Sunday evening was relatively moderate.

He said apart from a couple of minor accidents in the Far North, there have been no problems on the road.

National road policing manager Paula Rose said drivers need to realise there will be delays. She said they need to remain calm and alert and allow for extra travelling time.

The Christmas-New Year road toll is now two more than last year.

Ms Rose said 20 deaths during the holiday period is 20 too many.

The holiday period ends at 6am on Monday.

The most recent accident occurred on Saturday when a man and two children were killed in Waikato after their car collided with a truck just after 10pm.

The car was travelling south about 8km from Whatawhata, west of Hamilton. Police believe it crossed directly into the path of the truck and trailer unit.

Justin Paul Nicholas, 34, of Hamilton, and seven-year-old Kade James Nicholas were killed. The other child has not yet been identified.

A fourth person is in Waikato Hospital with moderate injuries. The truck driver and their passenger were not hurt.

North Island crashes

On Friday, two people were killed in separate accidents in the Bay of Plenty.

The first crash occurred at 7.25pm when a truck and trailer unit rolled into a ditch in the Bay of Plenty, leaving the driver dead. The accident happened near Settlers and Birch Roads in Reporoa.

The second fatal crash occurred about 8.15pm and involved three cars on State Highway 2, near Sargent Drive, Whakamarama, in the Western Bay of Plenty. One person, who was trapped in one of the cars, died at the scene.

Four people died on the roads on Thursday, including a Swedish tourist in a campervan crash near Tongariro.

A police inspector from Sweden was killed in the crash on State Highway 48 near the turn-off to Mt Ruapehu at 10.15am.

Goran Oskarsson, 50, who was driving the campervan, was unable to make a left hand turn at the intersection and the vehicle skidded across the road before rolling down a 20-metre bank into a small creek.

Mr Oskarsson was trapped and died at the scene. His wife and three children were injured and were taken to Waikato Hospital.

In Levin, a man was hit by a car and killed at about 1.30am on Thursday.

South Island road deaths

The crash which has claimed the most lives so far happened near Christchurch on State Highway 75, when three people died after two motorbikes collided.

One person was found dead in a four-wheel-drive vehicle which rolled on Cannibal Bay Road in Owaka, in the Clutha District.

Police say the sole occupant of the car, a man, 51, failed to negotiate a moderate right hand bend and the vehicle rolled down a steep incline for about 50 metres.

Police say the crash was reported at 10am on Thursday, but may have happened one or two hours after midnight.

The body of a motorcyclist was found about 10am on the Devils Staircase road near Queenstown.