The holiday road toll has risen to eight, following the death of a man who was in a car that crashed on to rocks in the Coromandel Peninsula last night.

And the police confirmed this morning that a man aged 84 died in Auckland City Hospital at the weekend, several hours after a single-vehicle crash on Tamaki Drive.

The police were called to last night's crash at Colville on the Coromandel at 11.17pm.

One man died after the vehicle left Port Jackson Rd and plummeted onto rocks 10m below.

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A boy in the vehicle suffered critical injuries while two other passengers were
seriously injured.

The Serious Crash Unit is examining the scene and the death has been referred
to a coroner.

The Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust flew the boy to Starship children's hospital, where his condition was later described as stable.

The holiday road toll

• Christmas Day: Whanganui teen Felix Newton died after crashing his ute into the Whanganui River in the early hours of the morning.

• December 27: One dead, details unknown.

• December 28: Kusum Sarin, a 63-year-old woman from India, died and four others were injured in a crash in Palmerston North.

• December 29: A 25-year-old Wellington man died when the motorcycle he was riding on SH1 was hit by a car being driven the wrong way down the motorway.

• December 29: A man died after crashing into the Opaoa River at a Blenheim campground at 12.55am.

• December 30: An 84-year-old man died in hospital several hours after a crash in Parnell, Auckland at 10.35am.

• December 31: A person died and another was seriously injured in a crash on SH1, north of Waihola in Otago, at 1.30pm.

• December 31: A man died after the car he was in with three others crashed down a 10m bank and on to rocks in Colville at 11.17pm.

The 2018 road toll

The road toll for 2018 ended on 380 following the Colville fatal.

The eight deaths during the holiday period, which started at 4pm on December 24 and finishes at 6am on Janurary 3, is up two from the same time last year.

The country's grim road toll statistics have been described as horrific after 2018 was confirmed as the deadliest year in a decade.

The provisional 2018 road toll was two more than in 2017.

It is the worst road toll since 2009 when 384 people lost their lives.

Road authorities are calling it an "absolute tragedy" and urging people to be responsible on the roads during the rest of the holiday period.

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter said, "It is staggering and unnecessary loss of life - equivalent in scale to a major airline crash."

"Many deaths and serious injuries on our roads are preventable. This Government is committed to reducing deaths and serious injuries through new thinking, more funding and prioritised action. The Government is investing $1.4 billion over three years to make urgent safety improvements across our high-risk roads."

Police Minister Stuart Nash said today, "There are far too many families who are missing a loved one these holidays after road accidents this year. It is devastating to know that many of these deaths were preventable."

"We have increased the number of frontline Police officers, including dedicated road policing teams. When we took office we were short of 111 dedicated road policing officers. By July 2018, all of those vacancies were filled. Police now have 1070 dedicated road policing staff.

Sixty-six per cent of those who died on the roads last year were male and 34 per cent female. Twenty-eight per cent were aged 60-plus, 14 per cent were children or teenagers and 13 per cnt were aged between 20 and 24.

Ministry of Transport spokesman Brent Johnston said that on average one person was killed every day on our roads and another was injured about every hour of every day.

"The hundreds of lives lost and the thousands injured on our roads this year are an absolute tragedy.

"It is horrific and we need to do something differently."

Everyone had a responsibility to make good choices on the roads, he said. But people sometimes made mistakes and road authorities needed to step up as a result.

"We need to design a road system for people — instead of blaming people for failing to survive in the system that we've designed.

"In the meantime, we're asking all drivers and riders this summer to make good choices on the roads.

"No one thinks a crash will happen to them, but we all make mistakes. So please, follow the rules."

Between 2013 and 2017, 1500 people died on New Zealand roads.

The numbers have increased over the past five years at what authorities have called "an unprecedented level".

A total of 57 of those killed were children and a further 167 were aged 15 to 19. Nearly 40 per cent of people who died in that period were not driving and had either been cycling, walking or were passengers.

Road safety campaigner and editor of car review site Dog and Lemon, Clive Matthew-Wilson, said he was gutted at the 2018 road toll.

"Quite clearly, just targeting illegal speeds has not worked. In fact, about 85 per cent of the road toll occurs below the speed limit."

Nash said last night that a "range of options" were being considered to target drugged drivers, including saliva testing.

Roadside drug testing relied on accurate and easy-to-administer technology, he said.
Any proposed new strategy would be released for public consultation.

"We need to do more to stop dangerous drivers getting behind the wheel and police enforcement on our roads is a key part of this."

The Automobile Association's road safety spokesman, Dylan Thomsen, said its research had found about half of fatal crashes involved extreme and reckless behaviour; the rest tended to involve everyday drivers making mistakes or bad decisions.

"The AA encourages everyone to think about their own behaviour on the roads and if there are things that you could do better."

As dawn broke today, New Zealand was coming out of the most deadly time to be on the roads, with more people dying and suffering serious injuries between midnight and 6am on New Year's Day than at any other time of the year, Herald analysis of NZ Transport Agency data has found.

Since 2000, 12 people were killed and 33 suffered serious injuries.

This is nearly twice the next worst morning for deaths and serious injuries on our roads, Waitangi Day morning on February 6.

The words of Auckland road policing manager Inspector Scott Webb ring more true than ever — don't get behind the wheel if you have been drinking or taken drugs, wear seatbelts, keep your speed down and don't get distracted.

- Additional reporting: Kurt Bayer