Yesterday marked the start of summer - a season when Kiwis make the most of our great outdoors and stunning holiday locations.

It's a time for us to be with our nearest and dearest - to celebrate the previous 12 months of friendship and family love . . . and just importantly look forward to what the next year holds.

Beaches will be packed when the weather comes good, and our roads will become increasingly busier as New Zealanders head away to their holiday homes or camping grounds around our fine country.

But sadly not all New Zealanders will end summer with memories to cherish.

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Each year what is supposed to a special time turns to misery for too many Kiwi families due to avoidable loss of lives on our roads and in our rivers, beaches and pools.

Twelve people died on our roads during the 2017-18 Christmas/New Year period. And to date, 344 people have died in crashes (just 33 short of last year's overall road toll of 378).

A further 105 people drowned in New Zealand last year; Water Safety NZ deemed 92 of those were "preventable".

Police and Surf Life Saving officials last week went on the front foot to try and reduce the pain that too many families have to contend with over the long hot days of summer.

New Zealand Police have launched two initiatives; a road safety campaign with the motto "Drive safely, people's lives depend on it", and "Operation Summer". Officers will be deployed over traditional hotspots in the Auckland region, reminding revellers to not overdo things, and encouraging us to look out for our mates and others.

The police road campaign will focus on cracking down on drink-driving, speeding, distracted drivers and the correct use of restraints. Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing Sandra Venables says: "Decisions you make as a driver impact not only on you, but all road users".

And from tomorrow, weekday surf patrols will start at two of our most unpredictable beaches - Muriwai and Piha. Other beaches around the country will roll out extended patrols over coming weeks.

And the message is clear from surf bosses; swim between the flags, know your limitations and look out for other beach users.

The Herald on Sunday wishes all of our readers a great summer ahead - but as we start packing up to hit the roads, and take a dip in our waterways, remember to look out for each other.