November has been one of the deadliest months on record for Taranaki roads after four deaths in just three weeks.
The death of New Plymouth mechanic Shawn Daniel Brand, 25, near Stratford early on Saturday morning took the region's yearly road toll to 14.
The accident came less than 48 hours after Eltham man Don Drabble was killed in an accident near Ngaere last Thursday.
Eltham Police Constable David Lindsay said while the Serious Crash Unit was still investigating, it appeared the man had fallen asleep at the wheel about 6am at the State Highway 3 and Climie Rd intersection.
"He's then left the road and it looks as though he rolled a number of times."
Mr Lindsay said Mr Brand had travelled to Wellington and was on his way back to New Plymouth when he crashed.
"There was a lot of travelling in a reasonably short period of time, so people need to be aware that it's important to take those rests when you're driving."
An 18-year-old female passenger was taken to Taranaki Base Hospital with scrapes and bruises.
"She was wearing a seatbelt and that seatbelt saved her life. He was wearing his as well, but due to the nature of the crash she ended up being a bit more protected than him, unfortunately."
Taranaki rural area commander Inspector Frank Grant said it was extremely concerning that Saturday's crash was the fourth fatal in his area this month.
The two others involved builder Seth Woolston, 26, who died just outside of Hawera on November 16, while Tracy Dando, 45, was also killed in a motorcycle accident near Opunake on November 3.
"We only have about five or so a year on average, for rural Taranaki anyway, but to have three in a week and four in the month, especially this time of year, is shocking," he said.
"With these last four deaths, you put that together with the few elderly folk who have died up in New Plymouth, and it makes pretty bad reading for the last four or five months."
Mr Grant said all four of the recent crashes could have been avoided and it was a matter of people taking more care when on the roads.
It was not yet known whether speed, alcohol or drugs had been a factor in Saturday's crash.
Mr Grant hoped it would be the last road death in Taranaki for a long time.
Extreme care was needed over Christmas, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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