Labour weekend road toll: Police urge motorists to plan ahead and get home safely

With four fatalities on New Zealand's roads this long weekend, the police are cautioning motorists to drive safely while heading home from their holiday destination.

It's the latest in a string of warnings issued by authorities this Labour weekend. A spate of serious crashes has resulted in numerous injuries, the most recent fatality on Saturday night bringing the road toll to four.

With many holidaymakers preparing to make the journey home on Monday, police are reiterating their message to "behave safely".

"Too many people have already lost their lives or been seriously injured on the roads this weekend," national road policing manager, Acting Superintendent Gini Welch, said on Sunday.

"We're expecting a significant amount of traffic across the country tomorrow and we know it can be stressful when there are so many vehicles on the road, especially when you're in a rush to get to your destination." 

"However we all have a part to play in keeping our roads safe, and we're appealing to all motorists to do their bit to ensure everyone gets home safely."

Welch is urging New Zealanders to watch their speed and following distances, pay attention to the conditions, and stop and take a break if feeling fatigued.

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is also encouraging people to plan ahead, be patient on the road, and accept that some delays are likely.

"The roads have been very busy as people take advantage of the first long weekend since June, and we know that traffic heading back into the main centres will be very heavy tomorrow," said Greg Lazarro, NZTA's general Manager of safety, health and environment.

"Congestion and some delays will be unavoidable at peak times, so we're asking everyone to allow plenty of time for a safe trip home." 

Lazzaro asks Kiwis to make use of Waka Kotahi's online public holiday map to plan their journeys home. The resource shows the predicted traffic flow across popular travel routes over the Labour Day weekend, based on patterns from previous years. 

Because predicted peak times can change based on incidents, weather and driver behaviour, motorists should also check Waka Kotahi's real time Journey Planner for the most up-to-date traffic and travel information before heading home. The tool provides real-time travel information, traffic cameras, and updates on delays, roadworks and road closures. 

As of Sunday morning, four people had died on New Zealand's roads this Labour weekend, compared to one death last year. A motorcyclist was killed in a serious crash in Upper Hutt on Friday night, followed by another fatality in a crash on the outskirts of Gisborne early on Saturday morning. Hours later, a two-car collision near Lake Tekapo resulted in another death, and on Saturday evening, a pedestrian died from injuries sustained in an earlier crash with a heavy vehicle in the Whanganui district.

The latest crash in the spate of serious collisions this weekend occurred on State Highway 35 in Tikitiki, a small town in the Gisborne region. 

Police confirmed that emergency services were responding to the single-vehicle crash, with the car rolling at about 2:10pm on Sunday. The road is currently blocked and motorists are asked to avoid the area.