Twenty-seven fatalities on Northland roads this year is an "unacceptable" toll and police are pleading with motorists to listen to basic safety messages with Labour Weekend approaching.

The number of fatalities this year to date is equivalent to last year's total of 27 deaths, which was up from 22 people who died in Northland road crashes in 2015.

With nearly three months left in the year police hope the toll does not increase, but realistically know there will be more trauma before the year ends.

Of the 27 fatalities, 16 have been in the Far North which was not a good look.


Road policing Senior Sergeant Ian Row said it was people who were not listening to safety messages who were involved in many of the fatal crashes.

"People have to stop deflecting these crashes on to other things like logging trucks and tourists. It's Northlanders who are dying.

"Every Northlander has to realise it's their obligation to make sure people are safe and make sure cars are safe, drivers are okay and passengers are okay."

That meant simple safety messages should be adhered to - no alcohol, no speeding, driving to the conditions and always wear a seatbelt.

Mr Row said the messages were often repeated but not heard by those who needed to hear them.

"It's the people who aren't listening to these messages who are involved in these crashes."

Police could only do so much. Ultimately safe journeys started and ended with driver behaviour, he said.

At least 11 of the road fatalities in Northland this year have a common factor - those who died were not wearing a seatbelt.

"It's unacceptable the 27 deaths. Try and gather together 27 friends. It's a lot of people's lives that have been hugely impacted."

More traffic is expected on the region's road over Labour Weekend and there will be a high police presence.

Police have identified seasonal risk factors in Northland over September, October and November and they include young drivers, alcohol, drugs, fatigue and speed.

On September 20 a cyclist on Waipu Cove Rd, near Langs Beach, was involved in a collision with a van travelling in the opposite direction. The cyclist, Ralph Calvert, of Waipu, died six days later but because the crash happened in Waitemata and not in the Northland police district it was not included on the region's toll.

Nationally it has been a "lethal" few days on the roads, with 10 people dying in crashes since Friday.

The number of fatalities rose rapidly with three crashes yesterday , which saw three people lose their lives.

An elderly man's car crashed into a tree on the North Shore just after midday, while a motorcyclist died in a collision in Motueka about 6am, and a driver fleeing police in South Auckland died after hitting a tree about the same time. A further three people also died in a two-car crash in Southland on Sunday.

Compared with the same time last year, 42 more people have died on the nation's roads.

The toll was sitting at 251 on October 9, 2016 - while that number had climbed to 293 by yesterday afternoon.

That's despite last year seeing the highest number of deaths on New Zealand roads since 2010.

"Every death is reported as a number, but each number has a face, a name and a family . . . [and] those that have been seriously injured can face months if not years of rehabilitation and treatment," assistant commissioner of road policing Sandra Venables said yesterday.

Meanwhile, an AA spokesman said the number of fatalities was both concerning and saddening.

People not wearing their seatbelts was a major contributor to deaths, with 100 of the road deaths in 2016 due to people being unrestrained, and 70 so far this year, he said.

The most common factors for fatal crashes included drivers losing control, drink and drug driving and not driving at the right speed to meet the road conditions.

National road fatality statistics for 2017 so far:
* 160 driver deaths
* 58 passengers
* 30 motorcyclists
* 30 pedestrians
* 15 cyclists
Source: Ministry of Transport