24 Dec 2009

Six die on NZ roads ahead of holiday period

11:04 pm on 24 December 2009

It has been a horror 24 hours on the roads, with six deaths recorded before the official holiday road period began.

The road toll for the year to date is now 376 - 11 more than recorded for all of 2008.

Six people died in five crashes on the roads in the 22 hours before the start of the official holiday road toll period, which began at 4pm on Christmas Eve.

The run of crashes began in Wellington on Wednesday night when an elderly woman died after her vehicle crashed into a power pole.

In the latest crash, two men died after their vehicle hit a power pole near Tikitiki, on the East Cape.

The police say the driver lost control of the four wheel drive vehicle on a moderate right-hand bend on Rangitukia Road just before 1pm on Thursday afternoon.

One of the two passengers sustained moderate injuries and was taken to Gisborne Hospital.

The police say risky behaviour is largely behind the deadly run of crashes.

National Road Policing Manager Superintendent Paula Rose told Checkpoint driving conditions were perfect on Thursday, but risky behaviour was a factor in many of the crashes.

She says police will be putting in long hours to keep the holiday toll to a minimum.

"The sad reality is people will die over the next few days and everybody is involved in keeping that crash rate as low as possible."

Last year, 25 people died over the 11-day holiday period, which ends on 5 January.