Senior police have delivered a sobering message about fatal crashes on a dangerous stretch of Northland highway just ahead of the busiest time on the region's roads.
Senior Sergeant Ian Row and Inspector Wayne Ewers, both of the road policing team, have delivered their road safety message in a video posted on the Northland police facebook page.
The officers both said the worst crashes they have attended in their careers have been on the 22km section of road south of Whangārei that runs to the roundabout with Port Marsden Highway.
Since 2008 there have been 19 fatalities on the road.
"In my 25 years of policing the worst crashes I have attended have been here on this section of road. Are you going to add to that by not taking a rest on your trip from Auckland to Northland this summer?" Row said.
Ewers has been policing for 34 years and seen hundreds of crashes in that time.
"Some of the worst crashes I've ever attended have been on this piece of road. We don't want you to be the next one. Please drive safely and don't be the next one."
But it's not just dealing with the scene that affects emergency service workers, it's delivering the news to family.
In the policing world it's one of the worst jobs to be assigned — the job of knocking on someone's door to deliver probably the most devastating news they will get. The news that someone they love has been killed in a car crash.
For Ewers it's the job he dreads the most.
"It's a horrific job and a job none of us want to do," Ewers said.
It's the look on the faces of those he is delivering the life changing news to that he vividly recalls.
"In the early hours of morning and there's a knock on their door and it's the look on their face, they know you're there and it's not good. You know the pain of what they are going through and the pain they are dealing with."
That moment will likely stay with the family forever. It also stays with the officer. Most can remember their first notification, in detail, years later.
"It's a horrific job. It doesn't get easier with age."
So approaching a busy time on Northland's roads police were appealingly to motorists to use common sense and adhere to some basic road safety rules.
"I want to ask you to drive safely on our roads this summer. Already this year in Northland we have had 32 deaths," Ewers said.
Driving 10km/h over the speed limit, being impaired and not putting on seatbelts had been factors in most of this year's fatal crashes.
"So please slow down, plan your journey and get there safely - we want you there for Christmas. We have picked a number of people off our roads this year, we don't want to pick up any more," Ewers said.
Police will be enforcing a speed tolerance over the official Christmas break. Over the holiday period – from 4pm December 21, to 6am January 7 – if you're detected by a safe speed camera exceeding the area's posted speed limit by more than 4km/h, expect a ticket.
Officers will still have discretion in how they deal with incidents and how they are enforced but their focus will be on preventing harm on the roads.
Police and the NZ Transport Agency were pushing the message: "Be courteous, be cautious, and look out for one another."
"Decisions you make as a driver impact not only on you, but all other road users. You have a responsibility to drive safely on behalf of everyone you are sharing the road with," Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing Sandra Venables said.
"Our staff will be targeting the four main behaviours we know contribute to death and serious injury on the road – not wearing your seatbelt, driving impaired (by fatigue, drugs or alcohol); driving distracted (such as using a cell phone), and speeding.
"At the end of the day, agencies can't do this alone. We need everyone's help to keep the roads safe, road safety is everybody's responsibility."