An elderly woman has died after being hit by a car in Takapuna, on Auckland’s North Shore.

She is believed to be the first person killed in the holiday period, which started at 4pm yesterday. The incident occurred on Taharoto Rd about 6.55pm, a police spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, in Hamilton, another woman was fighting for her life last night after being struck by a car on Hukanui Rd about 9.30pm.

Police have urged motorists to drive to survive – and where possible avoid traffic gridlock points – as they hit the road to holiday hotspots.

This year’s road toll stands at 312, already higher than it was in 2014 and creeping up to last year’s, where 319 people died on our roads.

The police and the New Zealand Transport Agency advise that staggering journeys and staying away from hotspots are the keys to ensuring safe travel.

National manager road policing Superintendent Steve Greally said summer was a “really high-risk time on our roads”.

“Fatigued minds and other distractions can lead to mistakes on the roads, so people need to adjust their driving to account for this.”

Dealing with deaths caused by motor accidents is “incredibly sad” for families, Greally said.

“We [think] it won’t happen to us, that we are good drivers. [But] it can happen to anyone, regardless of how many years you have been driving or what vehicle you are driving.

“It might not even be your fault, but … humans make mistakes.”

A reduced speed threshold of 4km/h over the limit will be enforced in December and January.

Waikato and Bay of Plenty state highways manager Niclas Johansson said following the basics of allowing plenty of time for journeys, driving to the conditions and planning ahead are the best ways to ease frustrations.

NZTA will have maps on its website showing the busiest routes and times over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

NZTA’s Auckland and Northland highway manager Brett Gliddon said data from previous years “shows state highways will be busy … from December 23 to January 4, with some particularly heavy times on individual routes and days”.

Hotspots expected to be the network’s busiest over summer include State Highway 1 between Puhoi and Wellsford and again at Takanini, and State Highway 2 at Maramarua.

Auckland and Northland expected hot spots:

State Highway 1 between Puhoi and Wellsford is one of the busiest points on the network. Congestion starts to build northbound from about 9am, through to the middle of the day from Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve. Southbound traffic is heaviest from 10am through to mid-evening from 1st January to 4th January.

The Hill Street intersection at Warkworth in particular can get very congested due to the higher volumes of traffic than it was designed for.

“To ensure these are managed as smoothly as possible traffic cameras at the intersection will be monitored by traffic operators at the Auckland Transport Operations Centre. The traffic light sequencing will also continue to be adjusted to allow more traffic to pass through the intersection depending on which direction the heaviest traffic flows are coming from.”

SH1 Kawakawa south of Bay of Islands – heaviest southbound on the 1st and 2nd of January.

SH1 Whangarei southbound the flows are at their busiest from 7am on 23rd December, again on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Northbound the peak times are 23rd and 24th December throughout the middle of the day.

State Highway 1 at Takanini south of Auckland is particularly busy southbound from about 10am until 2.30pm from the 23rd of December through to the 28th December. While northbound lunchtime to 4pm on Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th January are the heaviest.

SH2 Maramarua Interchange with SH1 Eastbound you’re most likely to face delays on Christmas Eve from about 3pm, again on 26th December through to the 30th of December through the middle of the day, and again on 2nd January. Westbound it’s busiest in the afternoon from 1 January to 4th January.

Bay of Plenty and Waikato Holiday and New Year congestion expected hot spots:

State Highway 2 Maramarua (east of Auckland motorway) is one of the busiest points on the network. Congestion starts to build eastbound from about 10am Christmas Eve and is at its heaviest from 3pm to 7pm. It remains busy from Boxing Day and gets a bit quieter on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Westbound traffic is heaviest from 11am through to mid-evening from 1st January to 4th January.

Northbound traffic on State Highway 1 Taupiri (north of Hamilton) starts to get busy from about midday on the 23rd of December and only quietens down on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and December 29th. Southbound is heaviest from mid-morning until around mid-afternoon from Friday 23rd December right through until Tuesday 3rd January (with a short quiet period on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day).

State Highway 1 Karapiro (south of Cambridge) is busiest for eastbound traffic around Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Tuesday 27th December lunch time. You’ll also notice an increase in traffic if you’re heading southbound later in the afternoon from Tuesday 27th December until Tuesday 3rd of January.

State Highway 2 between Paeroa and Tauranga is busy with eastbound traffic from late morning Boxing Day until late afternoon. It stays busy until New Year’s Eve but leaving early in the morning should avoid the busiest time. Westbound traffic is heaviest between 11am and 3pm on Tuesday 27th December. Motorists take a short break on Wednesday 28th December but then things pick up again until 4 January.

State Highway 29 Kaimai (west of Tauranga) eastbound you’re most likely to face delays on Christmas Eve from about 3pm, again on Christmas Day through to Tuesday 27th December mainly through the middle of the day, and again on 2nd January. Westbound is busiest on Christmas Day morning and the middle of the day on the 2nd and 3rd of January.

Other places to watch:

State Highway 30 and State Highway 33 intersection at Tikitere, State Highway 5 and State Highway 36 intersection at Ngongotaha and State Highway 2 Katikati.

Construction and road works that may affect your journey

To minimise delays most road works on major projects are paused through the holiday period and won’t resume until the 9th of January.

SH3 Mokau – the slip that has previously reduced SH3 to one-lane just south of Mokau has been re-opened to two lanes for the Christmas Holiday period. There is a 50km/h speed limit that will remain in place through the worksite.