Horror day on roads leaves rescuer traumatised

A horror weekend on the roads left seven people dead in just 24 hours, and police say driver complacency is pushing the death toll higher and higher.

It's also had a traumatic effect on the woman who pulled a crying baby from a crash that claimed the little girl's parents.

Winton Rd now bears few reminders of last night's horror: tyre marks, glass, and a children's toy. Yet three people died in a two-car crash.

Local farmer Suzanne Harvey was quickly on the scene and heard a baby crying.

"There was a guy holding on to a child probably about a two-year-old and I said, 'Right, I'll get the baby', and I went in and very carefully lifted the baby out, who was crying at this stage," she told Newshub.

Ms Harvey said she comforted the baby as best she could until emergency services arrived.

"You just know you got something to do, you have got two children there, my focus was on those children and I focused on them, particularly the baby," she said.

"I tried to comfort the baby as best I could and not move it very much because as I say, you just don't know what the injuries are."

The father killed at Winton was on the way home from his own father's funeral. He was also the nephew of former New Zealand First MP Ria Bond.

As well as the three deaths at Winton, a teenager was killed in Ōtara, another two killed in Te Kuiti, and one more in Motueka. It totals to seven dead in a 24-hour period.

Overall this year's road toll - currently 292 - is tracking 41 ahead of this time last year.

A police spokesperson told Newshub they're not sure what's caused the increase.

"What I can say is that in the last five years we have had 400 people die who haven't been wearing restraints or seat belts," they said.

Making it click has been a long standing message, but road safety charity Brake NZ says it's no longer being heard.

"For some reason those education messages aren't getting through and it's one of the simplest and quickest things we can do to save lives if we are involved in a crash," a spokesperson told Newshub.

Police say drivers have become complacent, which means the road toll is going the wrong way.

It's affecting not just the families but the wider community.

"If that were to ever happen to me then I would hope someone would do the same thing for my children because clearly the other two occupants - they weren't there," Ms Harvey said.

For this young baby, it's two parents who won't be there ever again.