Last Labour Weekend one person was killed on the roads - 16-year-old Ricky Pettigrew.

Today, his family have a message for other drivers, especially young people, as the long weekend begins.

Ricky had not long turned 16 when he died on October 28. The Katikati teenager was in a car being driven by his brother Colt Murcott when tragedy struck.

Murcott, then 18, had consumed 10 beers. He pulled his handbrake on to do a skid on a rural road, lost control of the car and slammed it into a shelterbelt. Ricky died at the scene.


His sister-in-law Fiona Cotterill told the Herald that the year since had been horrific for the family.

Murcott pleaded guilty to manslaughter and is serving a three-year prison sentence. September 14 would have been Ricky's 17th birthday.

"Ricky's death has been very traumatic," Ms Cotterill said. "We are finding it difficult to cope with, especially since his birthday and his anniversary are [close]."

She wanted to prevent other families suffering a similar loss, and pleaded with people - especially where young drivers were concerned - to be careful on the roads.

"Our main message is to parents. We need to reinforce to our rangatahi [youth] that drug and drink-driving is not safe. Parents need to talk to their kids and lead by example."

The family face further heartache in December, when Ricky's headstone will be unveiled.

People taking crazy risks to get past other vehicles is one of the most dangerous things on the road.

Authorities say the key to avoiding injury or death on the roads this Labour Weekend is patience and simple safety measures.

More than 100 people were injured in crashes during Labour Weekend last year and authorities hope drivers step up and play their part in reducing the number of incidents this weekend.


The official road toll period begins at 4pm today and runs until 6am on Tuesday.

Although Ricky's death was the only fatality last Labour Weekend, a further 20 people suffered serious injuries and 91 people suffered minor injuries in 83 crashes nationwide.

Injury crashes often have a permanent impact on the lives of victims and their families, and were considered just as serious as fatal crashes by police in terms of road safety.

"There are very simple things you can say and do to help each other stay safe on roads at a busy and high-risk time of year," said national road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths.

"We all want our friends and whanau to reach their destinations safely."

He said following "road safety basics" would cut risk on the roads.

"I urge motorists to turn their brains on when they set off, and keep them on until they get there. We all make mistakes, but not thinking clearly when driving, including driving while tired or distracted, can have terrible consequences."

Transport Agency safety director Ernst Zollner said many of the roads around Kiwis' favourite holiday spots were narrow or winding. "We're urging everyone to be patient, relax, enjoy the journey and drive at a speed that's safe for the more challenging ... conditions."

The AA urges patience and to avoid passing.

"People taking crazy risks to get past other vehicles is one of the most dangerous things on the road," said spokesman Dylan Thomsen.

Holiday-makers can expect a cold front to sweep up the country today, and while some places could be a bit chilly, it's likely to warm up tomorrow.

On Sunday, another front is tipped to bring some rain to the South Island, which should spread to the North Island for a time on Monday.

NZH lb