The death of a motorcyclist near Bulls has brought the holiday road toll to six, the same number as last year.
However, the national road toll for the year was expected to be confirmed today as the lowest it has been since 1950.
Police were last night yet to name the motorcyclist who died after a crash on State Highway 1 about 2 kilometres north of Bulls yesterday morning.
The man, thought to be from Auckland, was discovered by a passing motorist about 7.20am.
Highway patrol Constable Owen Bright, who is based at Ohakea, said the bike and its rider were found in a section of bush beside the road.
"He wouldn't have been easily seen," he said.
Police were yesterday trying to establish the time of the crash.
Mr Bright said the motorbike was the only vehicle involved in the crash, which probably happened during the night, on a straight section of highway.
The motorcyclist was travelling south. The scene was examined by the serious crash unit with little disruption to motorists.
The official holiday period began at 4pm on Christmas Eve and ends at 6am on Friday. Last year's holiday toll of six was the lowest since reliable records began. In 2011-12 it was 19, and in 2010-11 it was 12.
The only other time in more than five decades the holiday period's toll has been in single figures was 2006-07 when it was nine. Yesterday's victim, who would be named once next of kin were notified, was the 254th person to die on New Zealand's roads in 2013. This would be the lowest toll since 1950 when the total was 232. In the past six decades, the next lowest was 284 in 2011.
Automobile Association motoring general manager Mike Noon said New Zealand roads were the safest they had ever been but the low toll was not due to any one change.
"Vehicle safety is improving dramatically and that's a part of it. There has been some fantastic work done to improve the quality of high-risk roads and roadsides, and that's a part of it.
"People's attitudes to road safety and the way they drive have also changed for the better."
The biggest improvements were in fewer passenger and motorcyclist deaths, as well as fewer deaths for 25- to 39-year-olds.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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