'You will die on our roads' - police

Taranaki rural area commander Inspector Frank Grant
Taranaki rural area commander Inspector Frank Grant

A shocking rising road toll is pushing Taranaki police over the edge.

The crash in Normanby at the weekend that killed two bikers took the Taranaki road toll to 16 for the year.

Six of those deaths happened in the past month alone and according to Taranaki rural area commander Inspector Frank Grant they were avoidable.

There were no excuses for road crashes and, unless a meteor dropped from the sky, someone or somebody was at fault, he said.

"People need to drive to the conditions because nothing other than drivers are responsible for these crashes.

"The gormless message we're sending to people is that you will die on our roads," Mr Grant said. "Police are fearful that our roads are now known to be too dangerous to drive on."

He said police were frustrated and fed up and running out of ideas to fix the problem.

At this stage there had been no charges or blame laid for Saturday's crash but Mr Grant said there were others involved outside of the two motorbikes and the van that collided.

Police were still continuing to piece together exactly what happened shortly after midday on Saturday.

The group of motorcyclists involved were taking part in the annual Round the Mountain Toy Run.

Waitara's Kelly Richard Reardon, 40, and Bell Block's Gordon Thomas McKay, 68, were killed and the 24-year-old driver of the van, of Whanganui, is still in Waikato Hospital.

His condition had improved from critical to serious but stable yesterday afternoon.

In an effort to put a lid on the road toll for the 28 days left to go this year, Mr Grant has organised extra highway patrol officers at death spots.

"We've got highway patrol from the Whanganui to Palmerston North and Ohakea area deployed closer to Taranaki to help at our southern end," he said.

"Locally we're going to have more of our guys on the roads more often, particularly around State Highway 3 and State Highway 45."

Mr Grant said just an hour before Saturday's crash police had dealt with some high-speed motorcyclists.

"The guys are out there and targeting these sorts of things, yet these crashes still happen.

"We've had police doing a cellphone campaign getting the message out there that it's dangerous and even the Daily News is currently running a campaign profiling the dangers of drink-driving," he said.

When it came to crime resolution, Mr Grant said the statistics were good but road trauma was through the roof.

"We can't seem to get a handle on it," he said.

"We do what we can, yet we can't stop it."

Taranaki Daily News