Police are warning they'll be keeping a close eye on the region's motorists as the New Year approaches.

New data has confirmed the Bay's roads become more dangerous during the holiday season, with a spike in injury crashes as locals and visitors flock to summer hotspots.

The police's National Crash Risk analysis shows the number of injury crashes in the Eastern district - taking in Hawke's Bay and Gisborne - increased from a year-round average of 1.2 per day to 1.3 per day over the Christmas holiday period.

The average number of fatal and serious crashes in the district rose from a year-round average of 0.3 per day to 0.4 during the Christmas break period.


The increased accident rates in Hawke's Bay reflected the region's popularity as a holiday destination.

By comparison the daily injury crash rate in central Auckland dropped from a year-round average of 2.5 per day to 1.2 per day over the holidays.

Police are undertaking a nationwide "reach the beach" campaign which includes strictly enforcing reduced speed and alcohol limits, as well as targeting those using their phones while driving, or not wearing seatbelts.

Early indications were that Hawke's Bay drivers were generally obeying the rules, although police dealt with a smash yesterday afternoon.

Officers also dealt with two minor car crashes on Christmas Day, but were pleased to report they did not nab any drink-drivers in daylight hours on Thursday.

"Generally Christmas Day is pretty quiet, for the most part people are spending time with their families," Hawke's Bay road policing Sergeant Kevin Stewart said.

As the "silly season" continues, emphasis will be placed on a no-tolerance approach following the recent changes to drink-driving limits for adults 20 years and over.

From the start of December, authorities have been clamping down on anyone caught with excess breath alcohol of more than 250mcg of alcohol per litre of breath or 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.


For drivers under 20, the limit remains at zero.

"It's holiday season and we are definitely concentrating on drink-drivers," Mr Steward said.

"If you are stopped no matter what day or time you will be breathalysed, there is no excuse to drink and drive.

"We will not have it."

There was usually a spike at this time of year but Mr Stewart hoped the message from police would come through loud and clear: "If you are having a drink, put the keys away."

The drink-drive crackdown comes as police battle to keep the road toll from increasing further after a spike in deaths so far in 2014 compared with the previous year.

Sixteen people have died on Hawke's Bay roads this year compared with six last year.

The national toll is also up. It stood at 281 yesterday compared with 246 for all of last year.

Yesterday afternoon the driver of a John Deere tractor towing a ute took evasive action and ended up in a ditch after an oncoming driver rounded a corner in the middle of the road.

Hawke's Bay road policing Sergeant Kevin Stewart said the female driver of a golden, modern hatchback had crossed the centre line on Maraetotara Rd, near Havelock North.

He said the driver of the tractor was forced to swerve resulting in some of the machinery striking a bank, closing the road for three hours.

There were no injuries as a result of the crash but police were last night looking for the driver of the car and urged her to come forward after she fled the scene at 4.15pm.