Holiday traffic plagued by disruptions

Five people were injured when two cars collided on SH1 south of Wellsford yesterday, causing delays for holiday traffic. Photo / Chris Gorman
Five people were injured when two cars collided on SH1 south of Wellsford yesterday, causing delays for holiday traffic. Photo / Chris Gorman

Fatal accidents, breakdowns and huge traffic backlogs have plagued the first four days of the official Christmas road toll period.

The holiday toll last night remained at three - two men and an elderly woman.

A toddler and a teenager have also lost their lives in vehicle accidents over the Christmas break, but their deaths aren't included in the toll as they didn't happen on public roads.

Holiday traffic has been severely disrupted on the country's main highway north of Auckland, and on the Kapiti Coast last night, with accidents and breakdowns causing huge delays.

A broken-down truck at Pukerua Bay, north of Wellington, caused major hold-ups on State Highway 1.

Just south of Wellsford yesterday, emergency services attended an accident on State Highway 1 at Wayby Valley which also caused delays. Five people, three of them children, were injured in the two-car crash.

On Wednesday shortly after 1pm, a 58-year-old local man was killed in a single-vehicle crash 5km north of Taumarunui on State Highway 4.

Earlier that day, about 6.30am, a young man was killed 200m east of the Lorneville-Dacre highway, north of Invercargill.

Twenty-four-year-old Shane Curtis Tosh was the sole occupant of the Honda saloon involved.

Also on Wednesday, a newborn baby was taken to hospital after two vehicles crashed head-on on a corner in Waikato.

The baby and its parents were travelling south on Kawhia Rd at Tihiroa, west of Te Awamutu, when the cars collided on the sharp bend about 4.15pm.

Firefighters had to winch the couple's car off a road barrier and wedge the passenger door open to free the occupants.

On Christmas Day, Chinese national Rongmei Wang died in a two-car crash in Hamilton.

The 71-year-old woman was a rear passenger in a car that collided with a ute at the intersection of Te Rapa Rd and Avalon Drive about 12.35pm.

Four of her family were taken to Waikato Hospital.

Police later tracked down a 26-year-old suspended driver who allegedly fled the crash scene. A member of the public had followed her from the accident.

Meanwhile, 3-year-old Te Haeata Pitiroi was killed at Hatepe near Taupo about 9pm on Christmas Eve when he was run over in a shared driveway.

And about 6.30pm on Wednesday, 16-year-old Rowan Cai Parker was killed when he lost control of the quad bike he was riding in the Chaslands area of South Otago and drove over a cliff - falling 150m on to rocks to his death.

Neither Te Haeata's nor Rowan's death counts towards the official holiday road toll as the crashes did not happen on public roads.

Last year, 19 people died and 381 were injured in crashes during the Christmas holiday period.

Stay safe

* Slow down in communities, on rural roads and drive to the conditions.

* Don't drive after consuming any alcohol or taking drugs, and be careful about driving the morning after drinking by planning ahead.

* Always wear a seatbelt, make sure everyone else in the vehicle is wearing a seatbelt and children are in correctly fitted child restraints. Also make sure you have done vehicle checks such as checking lights, tyres, mirrors and windscreen wipers before setting off.

* Have your phone switched off or on silent and out of reach. Minimise other distractions.

* Take breaks every two hours on long journeys. Don't drive if you are tired, ill or stressed.

- APNZ

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