Police are urgently seeking any witnesses to a fatal crash on State Highway 2 between Napier and Awatoto last night.
The crash was reported about 9.57pm when other motorists discovered the car the man is thought to have been driving crashed into a tree.
The crash was barely 10 metres from the southern end of wire-rope road-shoulder barriers installed as a safety measure three years ago, which extend about 900 metres south of the intersection of Marine Parade and Ellison St.
It's a 100kmh stretch, and the crash happened in the dark and with light rain falling at the time.
Eastern Police District road policing manager Inspector Matt Broderick said on Thursday morning the investigation was in its early stages, but there were no known witnesses to the crash.
"We appeal to anyone who has information about this tragedy or the movements of the vehicle to come forward," he said.
"Call the police, or the Napier station 06 831 0700."
The vehicle was thought to have had just one occupant, a man aged in his 50s, and was thought to have been southbound and to have veered across the highway as it reached the southern end of the barriered section, police said.
Other motorists arriving at the scene called emergency services and the victim was dead when first responders arrived.
Broderick said direction of travel, speed, the weather and the safety aspects of the area would all be part of the investigation of what was the eighth death this month and third in three days in the Eastern Police District, which extends from the Takapau Plains in Central Hawke's Bay to the East Cape north of Gisborne.
A woman injured in a two-vehicle crash east of Waipawa on Monday night died in Hawke's Bay Hospital yesterday, and a man was killed in another crash near Anaura Bay, north of Gisborne, about dawn on Tuesday.
The wire barriers were installed in response to the long history of tragedies on the seafront stretch of road.
There had since been one other fatality, when a teenaged girl died when the car she was in and a truck collided in wet conditions late on the night of September 3 last year, a short distance north of the scene of last night's tragedy.
Consideration is currently being given to lowering the 100km/h speed limit between Napier and Clive to that of an 80km/h limit for the zone from Clive to Hastings, while moves are afoot which could see the stretch being renamed with SH2 being ascribed to the newer Hawke's Bay Expressway routes.