Another four Christmas day crashes on the Napier-Taupō road have added to a horror festive season for drivers on the challenging stretch of highway.
Two have died and at least eight are injured after a spate of seven crashes, which started with a double-fatal crash near Rangitaiki on December 23.
A woman was then critically injured in a crash near Te Pohue on December 24 that also injured two others.
Another crash on the same stretch of road, when a car went “off the road” on late on December 24 left a woman with minor injuries.
On Christmas Day about midday a two-vehicle crash, again near Te Pohue, ended with with no injuries.
A second crash 25 minutes later on SH5 near Pohokura Road in Waipunga left one person with moderate injuries.
An hour later at 1.20pm a third crash occurred at the same location, but no-one was injured.
At 3pm a car was reported to have crashed into a bank on SH5 around 200 metres north of Ohurakura Rd. There were no injuries.
Three people, a women, one in her 20s and another in her 50s, on Boxing Day remained in a stable condition in Hawke’s Bay Hospital following the double-fatal Christmas Eve crash.
The woman in a critical condition after the Christmas Eve Te Pohue crash has been transferred to Christchurch Hospital. An update on her condition was not immediately available on Boxing Day.
Earlier this month, motorcyclists Mere Paranihi, 29, and Nathan Olson, 40, both of Hastings, died after hitting a truck on SH5 near the intersection with Rukumoana Rd.
The truck driver, a man in his 60s, was burned in the attempt to save them.
Eastern District road policing manager Matt Broderick said after that crash that there had been plenty of work done on the notorious road recently, but it remained a challenging drive where crashes were possible.
NZTA had done a lot of work making the road safer recently, with safety barriers especially for motorcyclists, but “it’s still a challenging road that does not forgive mistakes”.
“We’ve had quite a few vehicles run off that road and been lucky to survive it.”
He encouraged people to drive to the conditions and the nature of the road.
Police across the district will be undertaking prevention and enforcement activities such as speed enforcement, drug and alcohol testing, and operations focussed on people using cellphones and not wearing seatbelts.
Sergeant Cam Donnsion of Hawke’s Bay Highway Patrol said he urged people to stay safe on the roads these holidays.
“The roads are busier at this time of year and we want to remind people to stay patient, plan their journeys and focus on getting themselves and their loved ones to their destinations safely.”
Donnsion said four main behaviours contribute to death and injury on roads: people driving too fast for the conditions; impairment by drugs, alcohol, or fatigue; distracted driving; and not wearing seat belts.
“Road safety is something we all have to take responsibility for, so watch your speed and your following distances, stay focused – put your phone out of reach – wear your seatbelt, and always driver sober and alert,” he said.