Holiday traffic: Roads snarl up; Waka Kotahi warns motorists to allow extra time for trips

Holiday traffic is snarling up the roads, with motorists being warned to plan ahead and allow extra time for their trips.

While the road toll mounts to 14, with three fatalities in just the past 24 hours, congestion is becoming near gridlock in some areas.

It’s bumper-to-bumper southbound on State Highway One (SH1) Manukau to Pokeno, according to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

Aucklanders heading north on SH1 were hitting major delays this morning between Orewa and Warkworth, with Waka Kotahi advising motorists to delay their journey or consider SH16 as an alternative route.

This afternoon, the main road in and out of Warkworth was still jammed.

There is also major traffic build-up on SH1 between Silverdale and Wellsford, SH1 Hamilton to Tirau, SH25 Hikuai to Tairua, and further south on SH1 Peka Peka to Otaki, as well as SH59 Plimmerton to Paekakariki.

Motorists are also advised of significant traffic congestion on SH2 through the Karangahake Gorge, with a Waihi music festival combined with holiday traffic slowing things to a crawl from Paeroa to Waihi and surrounding roads.

“Motorists are asked to have patience if they absolutely must travel, and consider delaying your trip if possible,” police have warned.

As the holiday road toll climbed to 14 overnight, one road safety expert says more could be done to prevent fatal crashes in New Zealand.

Automobile Association (AA) spokesman Mike Noon told Newstalk ZB that up to 100 lives could be saved each year if changes such as road improvements were made.

“Australia is on track to have about 4.4 road deaths per 100,000 people. We have 6.3 and the best countries in the world – which are some of the Nordic countries – they’re more around about two,” Noon said.

“So we are doing significantly worse than Australia; which is a country we very much like to compare ourselves to.

“If we had the same road death rate as Australia, 100 people less would’ve died this past year.”

Bumpy roads and old vehicle fleet among factors

A total of 319 people were killed on roads around the country by the end of 2021. The figure is only one less than the road toll the year before.

Noon said the older vehicle fleet in New Zealand was one of the factors.

“People die in one- and two-star cars, significantly more than they die in four- and five-star cars,” he said.

“And we have an old fleet. So the vehicles that we’re in, when it does go wrong, do not protect us as well as those countries that have a better standard of car with more safety features.”

The other factor was sections of our roads that “desperately” needed to be improved.

“Quite a lot of our roads need maintenance done on them … these are roads that are bumpy, have potholes, the tar is flushed … and they lose their grippiness for the tyres of your vehicle,” Noon said.

“There are definitely things we can do to our infrastructure to help ourselves.”

The latest holiday period road fatalities include a pedestrian who was struck and killed by a vehicle on Waihī Rd in Judea, Tauranga, last night.

Emergency crews responded to reports a person had been hit by a car about 9.40pm.

“Sadly, the pedestrian has died as a result of the crash,” police said today.

Police are now working to determine the circumstances of the incident.

In Gisborne, a person died after a serious crash in the area yesterday afternoon.

One vehicle was involved in the crash reported just after 4.40pm on Matawai Rd in Waerengaahika.

The circumstances of the incident are not yet known and police are investigating.

The road was closed for some time as emergency crews worked at the site.

Police appeal for witnesses to fatal crash

Meanwhile, officers investigating a fatal crash in Waipā, in the Waikato region, yesterday afternoon are calling on potential witnesses to get in touch with police immediately.

The single-vehicle crash happened on Arapuni Rd in the vicinity of Monckton Rd and Mellsop Rd.

Police confirmed yesterday that one person had been killed.

Authorities are now appealing for help from a vehicle that was immediately in front of the car that crashed shortly before the accident.

“Police would like to hear from the driver and passenger of a white car that was in front of the vehicle that crashed.

“While they were not involved, it is thought they may have information that would assist with the ongoing inquiries to understand the circumstances of the crash,” a statement said.

Anyone who witnessed that particular crash is asked to call police on 105.

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