Labour weekend road toll: Stark warning for motorists to 'get with the programme' after a horror start to holiday

No New Zealander is immune to making a mistake behind the wheel - a concept motorists need to get a grip of after the horror start to Labour weekend, says a regional road policing manager.

As of Sunday morning, four people had died on the country's roads. A motorcyclist was killed in a serious crash in Upper Hutt on Friday night, followed by another death in a crash in Te Karaka, a small settlement on the outskirts of Gisborne, early on Saturday morning. 

Hours later, a two-car collision near Lake Tekapo resulted in another fatality, and on Saturday evening, a pedestrian died from injuries sustained in an earlier crash with a heavy vehicle in the Whanganui district.

Only one death was recorded on New Zealand's roads during Labour weekend last year.

Matt Broderick from Eastern District Police has issued a stark warning to motorists - a reminder that no one is invincible.

"If you think you're immune to making a mistake, you really aren't a member of the human race," he told Newshub.

"You need to get with the programme."

Broderick said the fatalities are not only devastating for the families of the victims but take a toll on the officers involved.

"It takes a toll on officers when they go to two or three dead people on the roads within a space of a week," he said.

"We're just having a devastating toll, which is even more devastating when you consider that we had a lot less vehicles on the road for a good chunk of the early part of the year."

The Labour weekend road toll already stands at four.
The Labour weekend road toll already stands at four. Photo credit: File

The weekend death toll follows a spate of fatalities on Hawke's Bay roads in a grim year for the region, with three motorcyclists dying within a month as of mid-October.

Hastings-based Broderick told Newshub the statistics are crushing.

"Our area is actually miserable at the moment," he said.

The road policing manager is now urging New Zealanders to buckle up and remember the basics of road safety for the remainder of the long weekend.

Don't drive impaired, don't get distracted, wear a seatbelt, and watch your speed are the four fundamentals, he said. A seatbelt is the best chance at survival if a crash does occur.

"If I was giving you four certain factors that would help you win the lottery, you would all be paying attention," Broderick said.

"Now I'm giving you four certain factors that will help you if you make that mistake."

Don't drive impaired, don't get distracted, wear a seatbelt and watch your speed, says Broderick.
Don't drive impaired, don't get distracted, wear a seatbelt and watch your speed, says Broderick. Photo credit: File

A slew of serious crashes resulting in critical injuries have also caused chaos on the roads this Labour weekend. On Saturday afternoon, a car flipped near Hastings, and a serious collision occurred on State Highway 26 from Paeroa to Kopu. A rescue helicopter was dispatched following a two-vehicle crash in Burnham, and two patients were hospitalised in Greymouth after an incident on State Highway 7 near Kaiata. Multiple lanes were blocked on State Highway 25 following another collision.

There were at least four crashes on Auckland's State Highway 1 after 10am on Saturday - one of which involved six vehicles. Another crash involved four vehicles, but no injuries were reported.

An incident on Auckland's Harbour Bridge caused significant traffic disruptions when the collision blocked lane 4 for more than an hour on Saturday morning.

Two motorcyclists have also been critically injured following crashes near Woodville in Manawatu and on Desert Rd respectively.

In a strong message issued on Saturday night, NZ Police urged motorists to "behave safely" after the horrific 24 hours on the roads. 

"Police is strongly appealing to motorists to behave safely on our roads after a devastating start to Labour weekend," national road policing manager acting superintendent Gini Welch said.

"Our frontline staff have attended four fatal crashes across the country since the official weekend period began at 4pm yesterday.

"We have also responded to a number of other serious crashes which have resulted in significant injuries to those involved."