Police pursuits should be banned except when life is in danger.

That's what dogandlemon.com editor Clive Matthew-Wilson thinks should be done following the deaths of three people in a high speed chase in the Tasman district today - part of a deadly weekend on the country's roads that claimed eight lives.

Today's crash brought the year's national road toll to 77 - nine more than at the same time last year.

Similar measures for pursuits were already in place in the Australian state of Queensland, except where the driver was involved in a murder or considered an imminent threat to life.

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"I'm not suggesting that the police let yobbos get away with breaking the law. What I'm suggesting is that the police back away from pursuits of the type that just resulted in a multiple fatality.

"Instead the police should put their energies into quiet pursuit, followed by quiet arrests. The current system inevitably ends up killing people, and the dead people are often totally innocent parties," Matthew-Wilson said.

He believed it was inevitable that there would be increased penalties for drivers who try and evade police.

"There have to be consequences for behaving like an idiot, but dying shouldn't be one of them."

This morning's crash which claimed three lives near Nelson was caused by a driver fleeing police.

Police had been chasing the vehicle for 6km and the pursuit had not been called off when the collision happened on State Highway 6 near Clover Rd about 5.40am.

Police have confirmed they tried to stop a vehicle on nearby Gladstone Rd.

"The car failed to stop and fled towards State Highway 6, overtaking a truck and moving onto the wrong side of the road where it crashed into another vehicle that was travelling north," Tasman Police District commander Superintendent Mike Johnson said.

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"Tragically three people have died as a result, two of the deceased were from the fleeing vehicle and the third person was an innocent member of the public.

"An outcome like this is the last thing police want to see."

Johnson said the next of kin were still being notified of the crash.

"We now have three families who have lost members and our thoughts are with them during this difficult time."

Johnson said this kind of incident was "extremely testing" for police, who aimed to protect their community.

"They are fast-moving, unpredictable and high-pressure situations that require quick judgements."

The crash will be investigated and the Independent Police Conduct Authority has been notified.

Five other people died in crashes around the country this weekend and at least one other person is critically injured in hospital.

Matthew-Wilson said the growing road toll was partly the result of a healthy economy and partly the result of a culture of distraction.

"Multiple studies have shown that the road toll rises and falls with the economy. In particular, middle-aged men with money to spare are buying powerful motorbikes and killing themselves in record numbers.

"A healthy economy also means more large trucks on the road, which inevitably leads to more serious accidents."