Sixteen people died on the roads in the Christmas holiday period - seven more than last year.

The holiday period finished at 6am today. It started at 4pm on Christmas Eve.

Last year nine people died in the same period. Twenty-two were killed the previous year.

Road policing operations manager Inspector Carey Griffiths confirmed this morning the toll had risen to 16 with the death of a man on January 1.

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The 80-year-old died a day after the car he was driving drifted off the road on State Highway 73 near Springfield, south of Christchurch, Mr Griffiths told NZPA.

He was the only person in the car.

His death also took the total number of road deaths for 2007 to 423 - an increase of 30 on 2006's 40-year low of 393.

Last night police pleaded with drivers to take care.

Mr Griffiths said most accidents were caused by drivers.

"Very few are because of acts of God or mechanical faults."

He said despite police operations and much publicity people continued to speed and drive drunk.

He warned police would not be letting up with the end of the holiday period.

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Police advised drivers to be rested, patient, wear seatbelts, not drink alcohol at all or speed.

Drivers should attempt to avoid peak times and travel with headlights on at all times. Slow traffic should allow others to pass where possible.

Other road deaths this holiday period:

* A 13-year-old boy and a woman, 19, were killed after a car and a horse c ollided on State Highway 35, near Opotiki in the eastern Bay of Plenty about 3.15pm yesterday.

The boy had been riding the horse and the woman had been a passenger in the car. The driver of the car and a young child passenger were not injured.

* A man died instantly after being hit by a car on Brown Creek Rd, near Inangahua on the West Coast, just before 5am yesterday. He was Brian Joseph Win, 49, a labourer from the Buller area.

* A 36-year-old man died in a quad bike accident on Glenmorven Rd in southern Wairarapa. His body was found yesterday morning.

* A 37-year-old woman died during a family outing to the Waitomo caves when a van and a car collided head-on near Te Awamutu yesterday.

Two men, aged 34 and 30, who had been driving the vehicles were seriously injured and taken to Waikato Hospital.

* Daisy Fernandez, 13, of Tauranga, died after being struck by a motorbike driver at Ripiro Beach at Glinks Gully, 17km southwest of Dargaville at 9.30pm on New Year's Eve. She died in hospital Tuesday.

* A man died on Monday when his vehicle crashed at Opononi, near Kaikohe.

* Steven Cook, 22, died after a car plunged over a 200m cliff near Waverley, in Taranaki, on December 30.

* Northlander Peter John Emerson, 61, was killed after being crushed by a tractor on December 30. He had been driving a tractor towing a boat on Urquharts Bay Rd, about 35km from Whangarei, when it went off a seawall, rolled and crushed him.

* Ahuwhenua Witika, 78, and Hinewai Witika, 81, of Dannevirke, died when their car hit a bank after failing to negotiate a moderate bend on the Foxton-Shannon Road on December 29.

* Thomas Manawa Pohio, 53, of Lawrence, died when his vehicle crossed the centre line on State Highway 8 near the Central Otago town of Lawrence, burst through a farm fence and hit a power pole on December 28.

* Cody Rewi, 17, was killed in a head-on collision on Taihape Road near Napier on December 27. He was the only person in the car.

* Late on Boxing Day, Brett Peter Sproull, 43, of Tauranga, was killed after he lost control of a motorcycle and collided with a lamp post in Halcombe, Manawatu.

* Edward Paul, 35, of Mangere was killed at 4.30am on Christmas Day when his car rolled after failing to take a corner on SH2 in the Waikato.

- NZPA