Road toll off to worst start in five years after multiple crashes

The Road to Zero deaths seems to be getting longer with 30 already this year, according to the Ministry of Transport. 

Most recently, four people have died on South Island roads after two crashes within hours of each other in Oamaru and north Canterbury - the latest in a rapidly rising road toll.

Monday morning was the start of a new day but the end of two lives, with a crash just south of Oamaru involving a large truck which left two people dead.

The truck ended up in a ditch and police were on scene most of the day investigating how the tragedy occurred.

Just 16 hours earlier there was another crash in Leithfield, north Canterbury which also killed two people.

Three cars were involved; a further three people were injured including a baby.

Ambulance, police and helicopters responded to the collision on a busy night with many families returning from holiday.

The start to this year has seen a grim time on our roads. These latest crashes make this the deadliest start to a year in at least five years.

Canterbury police told Newshub any deaths on our roads are devastating and that "any of the crashes emergency services respond to are preventable".

"We see too many crashes where motorists have chosen to speed, drink drive, be impatient, or let themselves get distracted," a spokesperson said.

The previous Government's nationwide Road to Zero plan, which started in 2020, was supposed to see an incremental reduction in road deaths. However it didn't meet its forecasts.

Twenty-one people were killed over the last Christmas/New Year holiday road toll period, which was also the highest number in five years.

Road safety experts say we can't rely on drivers improving.

"There's more inexperienced drivers but above all else, the car is the primary form of transport in this country and there's more cars on the road so we have to improve the roads and the cars," road safety advocate Clive Matthew-Wilson said.

To prevent more Kiwis' lives from ending in an instant.