A Hawke's Bay road policing inspector says drivers must learn from the mistakes made after three young women died in a crash in Takapau - one of a string of serious crashes in the area.
Anahera Tienda Kaa, 17, Sharrisse Tuaiti Perawiti Taputerangituatea, 18, and Julianna Hickey, 18, were killed when their car and a truck collided on State Highway 2, between Snee Rd and Byrne Rd, about 2.48pm on Tuesday.
Hickey was from Matamau, while Kaa and Taputerangituatea (also known as Sharrisse Perawiti) were from Dannevirke.
Police Eastern District road policing manager Inspector Matt Broderick said it falls on drivers to understand the risks involved in driving on the region's roads.
He said Hawke's Bay has notoriously narrow roads, with lanes usually three to four metres wide.
"You've really only got a metre to play with either side. Travelling at 100km/h means you're travelling 27 metres per second – to wander off your lane takes just a split second," he said.
"That is the difference between a tragic outcome and safely arriving at your destination."
He said while unable to comment on the ongoing investigation into the circumstances of the crash, crossing the centre line and head-on collisions are a common feature of crashes in Hawke's Bay.
The car involved in the Takapau crash is believed to have been completing a passing manoeuvre when it collided with an oncoming truck.
The triple-fatal occurred just four months after another deadly collision on SH2, in Takapau, when one person died and another was injured in a two-car crash on July 30.
The next day, July 31, two more people were injured in a separate crash on Otawhao Rd, Takapau.
Fewer than two weeks ago another person was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries after a car rolled on Fraser Rd, Takapau.
So far 23 people have died on Hawke's Bay roads in 2020 – the highest death toll in the previous five years.
Broderick said areas across New Zealand have "peaks and troughs of tragedy", with Hawke's Bay at the centre of it at the moment.
"As a result, police will focus safety attention on those particular roads with higher crash rates," he said. "And we'd had a definite peak in fatalities this year that is lamentable."
He said a prioritisation process means places with peaks in crashes ending in tragedy will warrant police attention earlier than areas where that has not occurred.
So far 14 men and nine women have been killed on the region's roads this year.
Of the 23 fatalities, nine have been drivers and seven were passengers. The remaining seven are made up of four pedestrians and three motorcyclists.
Fifteen of the fatal crashes have occurred on state highways, four on open roads and four on urban roads.
Waka Kotahi regional transport systems manager Oliver Postings said the region's roads are busier as we enter the summer holiday period, which can make driving more challenging.
"We know that congestion and delays can be frustrating for motorists, but the most important thing is that everyone arrives at their destination safely," he said.
"We all have a part to play in keeping our roads safe. Please be patient, watch your speed, keep a safe following distance and take regular breaks."
Dannevirke High School principal Di Carter confirmed that Kaa was a current pupil, while the other two had recently left the school.
"Our school whānau are devastated with the loss of our students," she said.
The crash site is also 18km from their workplace - Silver Fern Farms.
"Silver Fern Farms is very saddened to confirm that employees were involved in the road accident near Takapau. Our thoughts are with their families and our team at Takapau," a spokeswoman said.
An employee said staff honoured their workmates with a minute's silence after being told of the tragedy.