Friends and family of a young soldier killed in a vehicle crash in South Otago have posted tributes following his death.

Tommy Corbett, 21, was a Lance Corporal in the New Zealand Defence force.

He died on Friday evening after his car veered off Owaka Valley Rd and struck a grass bank not far from his home.

His aunt Jacqui Dreaver posted a heartfelt message on Facebook.

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"We are feeling pretty devastated at the loss of our much loved nephew Tommy Corbett.

We are thank full that we got to spend time with him on Thursday and to see how happy he was at the moment."

Ms Dreaver said Mr Corbett had a great girlfriend who he could not stop talking about and had loved his job and his mates.

"The kids will miss you teaching them new tricks on the tramp, taking them hunting and just hanging out. Life was NEVER dull with you in it Thomas and you will be missed by many!! ...Lots of Aroha. The Dreaver familyxxx"

Another relative Heather Corbett posted she was about to begin a "dreaded journey home to the motherland to say goodbye to a very special person in my life".

"My Thomas my 1st born nephew the kid I loved looked after punished and praised.

"21yr n now your gone just like that no words cannot explain the emptiness I feel and even on day three I still don't want to believe the devastating news that your gone I can't wait to see you tomorrow."

Senior Sergeant Alastair Dickie said yesterday friends and family came upon the crash scene on Friday night and immediately recognised the car.

"The news was broken and the look of devastation in their eyes was plain to see," he said.

Emergency services worked desperately to save the man but were unable to do so.

"It left them feeling very deflated and upset that they were unable to do more for the young lad."

Mr Corbett's death took the road toll this month to 21.

That's 12 more than the number of people killed on the roads in the first 18 days of last December.

This year's road toll, as of midnight on Friday, stood at 327, compared with 288 at the corresponding time last year.

Inquiries as to the cause of the crash were ongoing, but Snr Sgt Dickie urged motorists to take care on the roads as the holiday approached.

Earlier this week, police issued pleas to drivers to be safe and considerate on the roads during the holidays.

The acting road policing manager for the Bay of Plenty, Inspector Kevin Taylor, acknowledged there would be many motorists from overseas, so said people needed to be patient and show goodwill when behind the wheel.

Insp Taylor said slow vehicles or naturally slow drivers sometimes led to other motorists becoming frustrated and therefore risking dangerous manoeuvres in order to pass.

"Two vehicles cannot share the same space at the same time without either breaking or illustrating one of the laws of physics,'' he said.

"If you apply that to intersections, someone will get hurt and that's not what we want to see. It is all about common sense, courtesy and staying alert and focused on a safe journey.''

Insp Taylor's key tips to reduce risk include:

Alastair Dickie. Photo / Otago Daily Times
Alastair Dickie. Photo / Otago Daily Times

• Make sure everyone is wearing a seatbelt.
• Focus on the road. Don't become distracted by changing music, fighting children, eating, or putting on make-up.
• Get off the phone. You can text or call people back later.
• Check your speed, and don't rush. Better late than dead.
• Take regular breaks. Don't risk being fatigued on the road.

- Additional reporting Otago Daily Times