Patrice Dougan is the Herald's education reporter.

Holiday road toll rises as motorists are warned to expect 'craziness'

A man has died following this crash on State Highway 33 yesterday. Photo / Stephen Parker
A man has died following this crash on State Highway 33 yesterday. Photo / Stephen Parker

The Christmas holiday road toll has risen to 11 after a man seriously injured in a crash near Rotorua yesterday died.

Monty Broughton, 68, from Taupo, died in Rotorua Hospital shortly after 11pm yesterday, after suffering lower leg and abdominal injuries in the crash on State Highway 33 between Mourea and Okere Falls.

He was found around 4pm yesterday in a vehicle which had left the road and crashed into a ditch as emergency services were making their way to another crash.

Three others were in the vehicle, including his wife and their friends, Senior Sergeant Malcolm Collins, or Rotorua Police, said. They suffered moderate injuries.His death was one of three fatal crashes on Sunday.

Bradley Charles Dobby, 20, from Central Hawkes Bay, died in an incident involving a ute and a car on State Highway 2, just south of the Waipawa Bridge near Ongaonga Rd around 7.30pm.

He was driving one of the vehicles, police said.Stevie Rangataua-Alexander, 18, from Auckland, died in a two-vehicle collision on SH1 near Wairakei, 20km from Taupo about 1pm.

She was the driver of one of the vehicles, police said.Drivers have been urged to take care on the roads tonight, as large numbers are expected to be making their way home following the holidays.

Thousands of people are expected to be returning from their Christmas-New Year break today. Photo / Supplied, Daniel Hines
Thousands of people are expected to be returning from their Christmas-New Year break today. Photo / Supplied, Daniel Hines

Motorists should "expect queues", said National Road Policing Manager Superintendent Stephen Greally.

"What we need is for people to bring a bucket-load of patience with them, because if you're planning to return today you're going to need a lot of patience," he said.

"Make sure you're adequately rested and if you had alcohol yesterday make sure it's out of your system before you even start driving because the two things don't mix.

"Patience is a big thing too. Long queues cause frustration and frustration makes bad decisions at times.

"We've seen that far too often, so the big thing is patience and consideration for other motorists. If you do that you should get home okay."

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) also warned of delays, particularly north of Otaki as drivers return to the capital, and said traffic congestion was likely to be "crazy".

Queues were likely between 2pm and 7pm particularly at the Otaki Roundabout.Traffic is expected to be particularly busy due to the Otaki Races.

"Expect heavy traffic today s-bnd through Otaki between 2-7pm. Otaki Races (last race 5.23pm) + holiday traffic = craziness! #DriveSafe," the agency said on Twitter.

A passing lane north of Otaki has been closed to help improve traffic flow and prevent queue-jumping, the NZTA said.

Motorists were advised to consider stopping for a break in Levin or Foxton.

"The good news is that the days of delays north of the Otaki Roundabout are numbered," the NZTA said, as work was expected to begin later this year on the Peka Peka to Otaki Expressway."

Once completed, this will bypass Otaki with a four lane expressway that will, together with the Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway and Transmission Gully - both already under construction - provide a clear run to the capital."Meanwhile, the weather is unlikely to cause any concerns for driving conditions, as fine spells break out around the country today and showers clear away.

Aucklanders would see the odd shower, mostly to the west, but the afternoon should be fine, MetService meteorologist Claire Flynn said. Tomorrow would be a similar story, she said, but with the showers shifting towards the north.Wellington would also see fine spells and a few showers today, but some strong southerly winds are blowing through the capital. However, they were "nothing unusual by Wellington standards", Ms Flynn said.And in Christchurch a last few showers will clear away this afternoon, leaving fine spells across the Garden City.The official holiday period started at 4pm on Thursday, December 24, and runs until 6am tomorrow.

Last year's holiday road toll was 15, from 14 fatal crashes and 226 reported injury crashes.

FATAL CRASHES THIS HOLIDAY PERIOD

- Jan 3 - Monty Broughton, 68, of Taupo, died in Rotorua Hospital shortly after 11pm, from injuries suffered in a crash on State Highway 33 between Mourea and Okere Falls, east of Rotorua, earlier that day. Emergency services found a vehicle with the injured man and three others crashed into a ditch on their way to another crash.
- Jan 3 - Bradley Charles Dobby, 20, from Central Hawkes Bay, died following a serious crash involving a ute and a car on State Highway 2, just south of the Waipawa Bridge near Ongaonga Rd around 7.30pm. He was one of the drivers.
- Jan 3 - Stevie Rangataua-Alexander, 18, from Auckland, died following a two-vehicle crash on State Highway 1 near Wairakei, 20km from Taupo, about 1pm. She was the driver of one of the vehicles.
- Jan 1 - Benjamin Cecil Rhodes, 37, of Motueka, died and two people were injured when a light van crashed at 2am on the Riwaka side of the Motueka River Bridge in Nelson.
- Dec 31 - Shirley Avis Murcott, 77, of Oamaru, died a day after a single-vehicle crash near Maheno near Oamaru the previous morning.
- Dec 29 - A young man, believed to be aged in his 20s, died in a crash between a car and a truck shortly after noon at Bankside, near Rakaia in Canterbury.
- Dec 28 - Tauranga man Raymond Allen Valere Morreel, 65, died while motorcycling with family members on State Highway 28 in Te Poi.
- Dec 27 - John Edward Davie, 57, of Ranui, died in hospital following a bicycle crash with no other vehicles involved which happened around 2.30pm on Christmas Day on Swanson Rd, west Auckland.
- Dec 26 - Ngatokorua Tangimataiti, 80, and her 57-year-old daughter Are Tito died in a head-on crash south of Tokoroa. They were travelling on State Highway 1 after leaving a whanau gathering.
- Dec 25 - French tourist Remi Morilleau, 27, of Nantes, died in a three-car crash in Northland. It's believed his rental car crossed the centre line and collided with another vehicles. He had arrived in Auckland from Melbourne with his partner on Christmas Day.

-- additional reporting: Kelly Makiha of the Rotorua Daily Post

- NZ Herald

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