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Holiday road toll worst since 1989

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/06/2016

Police anticipate the "same old suspects" of alcohol, speed and inattention may be behind some of the 11 deaths over the Queen's Birthday holiday weekend.

The provisional death toll was the highest since 1989 and contrasts starkly with zero deaths in 2013.

The tally broke double digits on Monday evening when three people were killed when a 4WD hit a tree in Northland.

Earlier deaths included a motorcyclist in Huntly and two men in head-on crash near Mt Bruce in Wairarapa on Sunday.

There were also been single-fatality crashes in Otago, the Bay of Plenty, north Canterbury, south Auckland and the King Country.

It was too early to know what was behind each crash, says national road policing manager Superintendent Steve Greally.

"It wouldn't surprise me if we had the same old suspects such as alcohol, speed and inattention that's come into play here," he told TV3's Paul Henry programme.

He admitted the road safety messages might sound like a broken record and he didn't know what more could be done.

"It's stuck isn't it? We just really need people to take responsibility for what they are doing, it's a simple as that."

Road crashes were traumatic for police officers as well as the victims.

"The worst thing by far is to have to knock on the door and tell someone their loved one is not coming home."

"You are ruining their world, quite literally ... and it's so unnecessary, it's so preventable."

The worst Queen's Birthday weekend toll was 24 in 1973.

The annual road toll now stands at 152, compared to 146 at the same time last year.

The Ministry of Transport has estimated the social cost of each road death at $4.1 million, $430,400 per serious injury and $23,000 per minor injury.

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