Easter road toll 'absolutely appalling' and 'completely unnecessary' - police

This year's Easter road toll is "absolutely appalling" and "completely unnecessary," police say, after eight people were killed on New Zealand's roads over the holiday period.

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Superintendent Steve Greally says this year's toll is the highest number in the last decade. Source: 1 NEWS

All eight of the fatal crashes occurred in the North Island, with several in Waikato.

Among them was a 14-month-old boy who died following an incident at his home in Auckland's Mt Wellington on Good Friday. He died in Starship Hospital two days later.

His death marks the worst toll in a decade.

“The number of people who’ve died this Easter period is absolutely appalling," Superintendent Steve Greally, national manager road policing, told 1 NEWS.

"A couple of years ago, we had four – I think this is the greatest number of people who have died over the Easter break in the last decade."

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The child, who died at Starship Hospital two days after an incident in Auckland, is one of eight people who died in recent days. Source: Breakfast

Greally called the deaths "completely unnecessary," adding that people are "missing the message".

He said while emergency services are concerned about the high number of deaths on New Zealand roads, so too are the families involved.

"Those people who would not reasonably have thought that they would be losing a loved one and have to go to a tangi this week – that’s where the real concern is."

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Greally said while it's too early to speculate on the causes behind the crashes, early indications suggest there are four main factors, including the failure to wear seatbelts; drivers being impaired by alcohol, drugs or fatigue; distractions, such as cell phones; and "the one which always catches people out" - speed.

“Most people, they do get it which is fantastic, but it just takes one or two not to get the message to take the risk to put everybody at risk.”