New Zealand roads kill 11 during long weekend
Eleven people died on New Zealand roads during the long weekend, crowning it the worst Queen's Birthday in 27 years.
The high toll - compared to a zero toll on 2013 - has road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson questioning the police's approach to safety and the reasons behind the deaths.
"When petrol is cheap, the high-risk groups start using cars for joyriding rather than just transport. A car full of young, excited, working-class males on Saturday night is a perfect setup for a fatal accident."
He believed police were "wasting their breaths" when asking drivers to take care on our roads.
"The high risk groups: drunks, motorcyclists, tourists, very young drivers and very old drivers, already think they're driving okay.
"They may even agree with road safety messages, but they don't believe it applies to them."
Police would be using their time better by lobbying the government to improve New Zealand's "third world roads and cars", he said.
"I know it's natural to blame bad driving when people get killed, but blaming bad driving doesn't change anything. Nor does issuing millions of tickets to ordinary drivers who've drifted a few kms over the speed limit.
"What does work is changing the cars and the roads, so that silly behaviour doesn't kill innocent people."
Road policing manager Steve Greally issued a statement saying the prime responsibility for police was the safety of road users.
"Our approach continues to be to educate road users first and, where they do not heed the warning, enforce the law via the appropriate means.
"Quite often, many road crashes can be prevented had drivers driven to the conditions and ensured they followed the road rules."
Most adhered to road rules but there were those who did not.
"These will likely end in tragedy on our roads, as seen so far, and police will continue to do everything we can to ensure the message gets to those who need to hear it – if only to prevent another crash from occurring."
An NZTA spokesman said the Government's Safer Journeys Strategy had "four pillars", including safer roads and cars.
The Queen's Birthday holiday period started at 4pm on Friday and ends at 6am on Tuesday.
In 2013, the road toll was zero during Queen's Birthday Weekend, the first time there were no fatalities on the country's roads for the holiday weekend period since records began.
On Monday afternoon, a person died in a collision between a car and motorbike in Huntly, Waikato.
Police were called to the incident on Harris St, west of the Waikato River, at 3pm on Monday afternoon.
The north-bound driver of the motorbike died after crashing into a car that was heading south, police said.
The driver of the car was not hurt.
There was also a crash west of Tauranga on SH2 on Monday afternoon that caused considerable delays for people travelling between Waikato and Bay of Plenty.
Diversions were put in place while the scene between Katikati and Bethlehem was cleared. Motorists were asked to avoid that section of State Highway 2 and take an alternate route via Hamilton or delay their travel if possible.
The driver of a car that crashed near Mt Bruce, Wairarapa, on Sunday died after being freed from the wreck of the car, while another man, who had been flown to Wellington Hospital, died on Monday.
In the final fatal crash of the long weekend, A 4WD carrying six people crashed into a tree at about 6.45pm on the corner of Bayleys Coast Rd and Baylys Basin Rd, near Dargaville.
Fire Communications shift manager Jaron Phillips said three of the occupants had died, while three had sustained serious injuries.
On Friday evening, a Kaikoura man, aged 64, died in a four-car crash on SH1 between Waikouaiti and Waitati, north of Dunedin.
On Saturday, one person died in a crash on State Highway 3 between Te Kuiti and Piopio, a motorcyclist died after colliding with a parked car in south Auckland, another person died in a crash north Christchurch, and a man died after his car crashed into a tree near Rotorua.