The road toll in Hawke's Bay and the East Coast in 2017 soared even higher than the rate of tragedies nationwide, according to statistics obtained by Hawke's Bay Today.

The toll of 22 in the Hawke's Bay Today circulation area from Wairoa to Tararua was 22, almost 70 per cent up on the 13 in 2016, while the 25 in the Eastern Police District, which does not include Tararua but incorporates Gisborne and the East Coast was just under double last year's total for the district. Both were the worst since 2012.

But the nationwide toll, provisionally put at 380 and the highest since 2009, is just 16.2 per cent up on last year's toll of 327.

Those killed in Hawke's Bay comprised 11 drivers, six passengers, one motorcyclist, two cyclists, and two pedestrians. The drivers and the motorcyclist ranged in age from 81 to 18 and included nine males and three females. Four were aged 26 or younger.


Single vehicle crashes accounted for 12 of the deaths.

In contrast to 2016, just nine of the year's 22 fatalities involved the main road network of State Highway 2, the Hawke's Bay Expressway and State Highway 5. In 2016, 11 of the 13 deaths related to incidents on those highways.

Also in contrast to recent years, weekends featured prominently in the Hawke's Bay deaths, with 16 fatalities resulting from incidents between 7pm on a Friday and 1am on a Monday. In 2016 just four of the 13 fatalities came from that timeframe.

There were no fatalities in July, almost a repeat of 2016 when there were no fatalities in almost two months from the start of June to the end of August. Four of the fatal incidents were in April, and three each in January, February and August.

Seven of the fatalities were in the Hastings District, geographically the largest of the five districts in Hawke's Bay Today's circulation area, and five were in Napier, the smallest.

The toll in the Bay was, however, still well below the annual average since 1990, when 55 deaths were recorded in Hawke's Bay.

In the 28 years back to New Zealand's sesqui-centennial, 798 fatalities have been recorded on the area's roads, averaging over 28 a year. In the same time 12,577 have died national, an annual average of just under 450.

The national toll is just over half the 1990 toll of 729.

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter said the increase in the national toll in 2017 was "simply shocking" and, with a continued upward trend over the last four years, the Government announced before Christmas it will add a $22.5 million boost to road safety funding for the summer.

"I also intend to hold a road safety summit early this year so I can hear directly from councils about opportunities for improving road safety."

The national toll for the Christmas-New Year Holiday period, which started at 4pm on December 22 and ends at 6am tomorrow, late yesterday stood at 11, after the first fatality of 2018, that of a 69-year-old man killed in a collision on the Maungatapu Bridge across Tauranga Harbour.

Just one of the deaths has been in Hawke's Bay or the Gisborne East Coast area, that of a man who crashed east of Waipawa about dawn on December 24.