Queen's Birthday weekend road toll now 11 - the worst in 27 years

By Nikki Preston, Amelia Wade

Four deaths yesterday in Northland and Waikato bring harrowing Queen's Birthday tally to 11.

Eleven people had died by last night over a harrowing Queen's Birthday weekend -- its worst road toll in 27 years.

Three died and three were seriously injured after a 4WD hit a tree on Baylys Coast Rd near Dargaville in Northland about 6.45pm yesterday.

Five people died over the same weekend last year.

By 8pm yesterday 11 people had died -- the highest toll for a Queen's Birthday weekend since 1989 when 13 people died -- but the road toll period didn't officially end until 6am today.

Earlier yesterday, a motorcyclist was killed in Huntly when his north-bound bike and a south-bound car crashed by the Waahi Paa Marae.

The motorcyclist died at the scene and the car's driver, who police confirmed was not at fault, was unhurt. Roads were blocked for several hours while police investigated.

Huntly police said it was a tragic end to a long weekend.

Soon after the Huntly crash, emergency services were called to a head-on collision on State Highway 2 between Bethlehem and Katikati.

Police said trapped people were removed from each of the two vehicles involved.

The first person killed this weekend was Stuart Ernest Windle, 64, of Kaikoura.

He died at the scene of a five-car crash north of Dunedin that injured six others, while heading south on Friday night to take part in the Hurricane Rodders Mid Winter Run in the city.

The crash was on State Highway 1 near the intersection of Apes Rd, about 5km south of Waikouaiti, as holidaymakers left Dunedin.

Mr Windle's vehicle, two other custom cars and a late-model sports car were heading south to the event when the crash occurred about 5.45pm.

Friends said Mr Windle loved the 1937 Ford Cabriolet convertible in which he died.

Hurricane Rodders president Wayne Nicol said the club considered stopping the event, but it was agreed it would take place.

There had been "a bit of a toast" for Mr Windle at the event, and the club next year would consider changing its name to a memorial event for him.

Police are "gutted" at the high number of people killed on the roads over the long weekend. "We were going into this Queen's Birthday weekend knowing that five people lost their lives last year," said national road policing manager Superintendent Steve Greally. "If we got anywhere near that, that was going to be a big failure for motorists as a whole. "But of course, 11, that's more than double. Spare a thought for those families who are without their loved ones who were otherwise fit and well. "Gutted is what we are."

Mr Greally said there was no clear explanation for the surge in deaths."We've got our crash investigators out at the scenes and that takes a little while to measure up and sort through."But it wouldn't surprise me if your usual suspects were involved - alcohol, speed and a big one: inattention."

Mr Greally said the weekend's road toll indicated that police needed to carry on working to spread the road safety message to all parts of the community, including at schools.

"You put your belt on, it's so damn easy to do, but people aren't doing it. And it's a 40 per cent chance of living through [a crash]. "We've really got to continue with our road safety partners to advertise, put the messages out there wherever we can."

Mr Greally, said many factors led to crashes, including inattention, stupidity and impatience.

"There's a lot of things New Zealand motorists do wrong every day. A lot of people do a great job on our roads, but we've still got that culture on our roads of impatience.

"People have to get from A to B as quickly as possible, which puts the risk right up there."

Mr Greally reiterated the need for motorists to change their attitudes when behind the wheel: stick to speed limits, travelling distances and be considerate.

Queen's Birthday road toll 2016

Monday
• Three people died last night in a crash near Dargaville at 6.45pm
• A man died when his motorcycle crashed head on into a car on Harris Rd in Huntly at 3pm, Waikato

Sunday
• Two men died following a two-vehicle crash at about 11.50am on State Highway 2, near Mt Bruce in northern Waiparapa. One man died at the scene and another later at Wellington Hospital
• A man died after his car crashed into a tree on Dun Rd near Kaingaroa Forest east of Taupo at 3.15pm

Saturday
• A person died in a three-vehicle crash on SH1 at Greta Valley between Christchurch and Kaikoura when a car and truck collided shortly after 6pm
• A motorcyclist died on Castlebane Dr in South Auckland when the motorbike drove into a parked car at 4pm
• A person died in a crash on State Highway 3 between Te Kuiti and Piopio shortly after 5am

Friday
• Stuart Ernest Windle, 64, of Kaikoura died at the scene of a five-car crash on State Highway 1 near the intersection of Apes Rd, north of Dunedin at 5.45pm

Road deaths to date

• 152 deaths this year
• 146 same time last year

Casualty types (this year to date):

• 76 drivers
• 41 passengers
• 20 motorcycle riders
• 10 pedestrians
• 3 pedal cyclists
• 2 other

Source: Ministry of Transport

- additional reporting Otago Daily Times

- NZ Herald

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