The annual road toll has now surpassed last year's grim tally making this the deadliest year on the country's roads since 2009.

The Ministry of Transport has confirmed to the Herald that a fatal crash in Otago earlier today took the 2018 toll to 379 - one more than for all of 2017.

This year's road toll still has nearly six hours left to run.

New Zealand is also entering 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 other times of the year.

Advertisement

Using data from the NZ Transport Agency, the Herald has found more people die and suffer serious injuries after New Year celebrations. 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.

Our Most Fatal Morning
'DON'T GET BEHIND THE WHEEL IF YOU HAVE BEEN DRINKING'

Tonight, 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.

With only a matter of hours left in 2018, the road toll for the year stands at 379, one more than last year's total road toll of 378.

Today, one person died and another is in a serious condition after a crash on State Highway 1, north of Waihola in Otago at 1.30pm.

Emergency crews are at the scene of a crash in Waverley, in the South Taranaki district, where a car has smashed into a bank. The incident happened just before 9pm.

A police spokeswoman said one person suffered critical injuries and has been airlifted to hospital.

Further north several people have been injured today following accidents on two North Island state highways.

On SH1 in the Karapiro area between Cambridge and Tirau, five people were taken to Waikato Hospital, one suffering serious injuries, and the others minor injuries.

At SH15 - the Napier-Taupō highway - a head-on crash about midday led to two people being trapped in vehicles, one of them an elderly woman with serious injuries.

The crash happened about 15km south of the Rangitaiki Tavern.

Two helicopters were earlier being sent to the scene and it is reported a doctor on the scene had assessed some of the victims.

A person has also been taken to Whakatāne Hospital with serious injuries after crashing through a fence in Opotiki.

Ambulance and police were called to the scene of the crash at Ford St at 2.20pm, a St John spokeswoman said. No one else was injured in the crash.

A road crash also caused traffic delays for about 45 minutes on the SH20B route to Auckland Airport this afternoon.

New Zealand is entering the most deadly time to be on the roads. Photo / File
New Zealand is entering the most deadly time to be on the roads. Photo / File

FIVE PEOPLE KILLED ON ROADS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON:

Five people have been killed on New Zealand roads so far this holiday season.

The first fatality was 17-year-old Felix Newton.

The teen died in the early hours of Christmas Day after crashing his ute off a bridge into the Whanganui River.

On December 28, a woman was killed and four others injured in a crash at Palmerston North. Police named her as Kusum Sarin, 63, of Haryana, India.

The next day two people were killed in separate crashes.

At 12.55am a man died after crashing into the Ōpaoa River at the Blenheim TOP 10 Holiday Park. The river runs alongside the campground. The victim was 35-year-old Gareth John Root, of Blenheim.

At 3am a 25-year-old motorcyclist was killed in Wellington after he was struck by a car travelling the wrong way on State Highway 1 near Johnsonville.

Police have charged a 72-year-old woman with careless driving causing death.

Detective Senior Sergeant Kevan Verry later revealed the woman had been reported to police moments before the fatal crash. All of the crashes are under police investigation.

During the 2017/2018 Christmas holiday period there were 11 fatal crashes and 329 reported injury crashes.

Those crashes resulted in 12 deaths, 90 serious injuries and 379 minor injuries.

The deaths included eight drivers, three passengers and a motorcyclist.

In 2017, 378 people died on New Zealand roads, up from 325 in 2016, 218 in 2015 and 291 in 2014.