Bay of Plenty drivers are being encouraged to take care on the roads this holiday season.
Senior Sergeant Fane Troy of the Taupo police said the heartbreaking deaths of seven people from two families in
crashes near Tokoroa this week would have impacted on the thoughts and conversations of many New Zealanders, prompting the call for motorists to stay safe on the roads.
He said police across the Bay of Plenty were urging everyone to reflect on those tragedies and the devastation caused to those families in the hope that it would prevent more lives being lost over Christmas and New Year.
"Driving is such a fundamental feature of so many of us that complacency and impatience easily set in and poor decisions are so easily made,'' Mr Troy said.
"We don't yet know what caused these crashes but it shouldn't take tragedies like this to prove that none of us are
invincible. Before you get into a vehicle please think about those families, the suffering they face this Christmas and ask yourself how your family and friends would feel if it were you.
Then make the right choices to ensure
you and your loved ones stay safe.''
Mr Troy said speed, alcohol, fatigue, inattention and a lack of restraints remained the five key factors behind the majority of crashes in New Zealand.
He said carrying out basic vehicle safety checks, planning journeys, allowing plenty of time and driving to the
conditions and to your abilities could all be lifesavers.
"Also make sure you are courteous to others and share the road.''
He said there had been a sharp increase in the deaths of motorcyclists this year. In the Bay of Plenty there were none in the first half of the year but five motorcyclists died in the region since July.
"We know that during the warmer weather more motorcyclists take to the roads. They are less visible and that makes them more vulnerable. Whatever your mode of transport make sure you respect the rights of other road users, be visible, be alert and, above all else, drive safely and responsibly,'' said Mr Troy.
"If you are a motorbike rider you should ensure that you have the appropriate licence for the size of their bike, and that you are wearing appropriate clothing which is visible and safe, including an approved safety helmet. Bare skin and jandals will not protect you in a crash.''
The official holiday period begins at 4pm on Friday December 21 and finishes at 6am on Monday January 7. During this time there will be increased police visibility and patrols and a stricter tolerance on speed.
Tips for driving these holidays:
Have your car serviced or at least do some basic maintenance checks _ oil, water, wiper blades and tyres. Most
tyre companies will provide pressure checks, top-up and puncture repairs for free
Map out your route
Check the weather and anticipated road conditions
Have a full tank of fuel and on a long trip work out in advance where you intend to re-fuel, not all service stations are open 24 hours
Don't just re-fuel your vehicle, take regular rest breaks
Make sure there is plenty to keep children occupied, bored and restless children are a distraction
Keep an emergency pack to hand with water, snacks, warm clothing and a first aid kit in case or a breakdown
If you have a mobile phone make sure it is fully charged for an emergency but remember it against the law to use it while driving