1 Jan 2015

Roads claim 297 lives in 2014

8:05 pm on 1 January 2015

The road toll for 2014 has been revised to 297, after police revealed they believe two people were in a car which plunged into a West Coast river on Tuesday.

The car has been submerged in the Wanganui River, north of Harihari, since the crash but police hope to retrieve it today and will then know exactly how many people died.

Last night, a 50-year-old motorcyclist died after crashing on a sand dune in Port Waikato.

A police spokesperson said the man was reported missing about 9.30pm and found an hour later but died before a rescue helicopter arrived.

The deaths take the 2014 toll to 297 - 44 more than in 2013. However, the 253 deaths on the roads in 2013 was the lowest since 1950.

Police Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing Dave Cliff told Summer Report the yearly number told only part of the story.

"What we tend to do is put the road toll into yearly chunks but in the last 10 years we've lost 3922 lives on New Zealand roads," he said.

"So if you start to think about that number, it is an enormous number of people whose lives have been lost, and then there's the 120,000 that have been injured."

Mr Cliff said one of the stand-out aspects of the road toll was the number of motorcyclists who were dying on the roads.

He said there was an international trend, also evident in New Zealand, for older males to buy large motorcycles.

Mr Cliff said unfortunately many of these motorcyclists were being killed in road accidents.

Meanwhile, the first road death for the year has been recorded in Auckland, where a car crashed into a power pole about 6.15am today.

One woman died in the crash, which happened on the southern motorway just before the East Tamaki off-ramp.

Other people have been taken to Middlemore Hospital with minor injuries.

A police spokesperson said emergency services were at the scene and a road block was in place.

The woman's death takes the holiday road toll to 11.