Transport agency wants drivers to be more patient after 2014 begins with seven fatalities and many injured

A van carrying eight members of a family plunging 15m from State Highway 5 near Te Haraoto on January 2 got the New Year off to a bad start.

That bad luck continued yesterday when a 5-year-old girl was flown to hospital after a crash in Whakapara Rd, near Russell.

After at least seven fatalities and a dozen serious crashes, motorists were yesterday warned to drive with extra care.

"The (New Zealand) Transport Agency is saddened that the start of the new year has been marred by tragedy for so many Kiwi families, and we urge drivers to be patient and drive with care," said an agency spokesman.


The spokesman said that although it was encouraging for New Zealand to have finished 2013 with the fewest number of road deaths since 1950, the "tragic events of this week are a reminder that there is no room for complacency".

"Finishing the year with over 250 deaths and thousands of debilitating injuries was not a cause for celebration, because a transport system that kills and maims thousands of people every year is not sustainable."

Last Saturday, Georgina Rawinia Rikiti, 38, died in hospital after a car she was driving crashed into a tree on Astley Ave in New Lynn. On the same day, a man was killed when his motorcycle and car collided on State Highway 1 near Taupiri in Waikato.

On Sunday morning, one person was killed when a car crashed into a tree and burst into flames in the Bay of Plenty. Meanwhile, a 49-year-old woman passenger was airlifted to hospital with serious neck injuries after the SUV she was in ended upside down in a ditch at Whakaki, near Wairoa.

By the time the weekend was over, the road toll had risen to four - one fewer than for the same period last year.

On Tuesday, a 37-year-old cyclist was killed when his bike collided with a truck pulling a container through the Parnell Rise and Stanley St intersection.

Cycle Action Auckland yesterday said authorities needed to do a lot more to prevent such accidents.

In Havelock North, an 87-year-old woman was killed in a two car crash, and became the first official road fatality for Hawkes Bay.

Early yesterday morning, one person died when two trucks and a car were involved in a crash on State Highway 1, south of Sanson in Manawatu.

In Northland, a 5-year-old girl was airlifted to hospital by helicopter after receiving serious injuries in a two-car crash.

Assistant Commissioner of Road Policing Dave Cliff said overtaking was "probably the most dangerous thing" drivers do, and urged motorists to make sure the road ahead was clear before the manoeuvre.

Road crashes this year

• One person was killed in a collision between two trucks and a car south of Sanson on State Highway 1.
• A 5-year-old girl received serious injuries after a two-car crash in Northland.

January 7:
• A 37-year-old cyclist was killed in a collision with a truck in Auckland.
• An 87-year-old woman killed in a two-car crash near Havelock North.

January 5:
• One person killed when car crashed into a tree in Bay of Plenty.
• Three people injured in two separate crashes north of Wellsford.
• Two seriously injured in a two-car collision on the south side of Brynderwyn Hill.
• A 49-year-old woman was airlifted to hospital after an SUV ended upside down in a ditch at Whakaki.

January 4:
• A 38-year-old woman died after her car crashed into a tree in New Lynn, Auckland.
• A man was killed when his motorcycle and a car collided near Taupiri.

January 2:
• Eight injured after a van plunged 15m from State Highway 5 near Te Haraoto.