Police have defended the need to enter into a high-speed Boxing Day chase with a motorcyclist north of Newcastle, despite already having his licence and details.
A critical incident investigation has been launched after the motorcyclist, who has only been identified as being a 40-year-old man, died in John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle this morning.
His death has taken the state's holiday road toll to 13.
The bike rider had stopped at a random breath testing station on Nelson Bay Road at Fern Bay about 11.30am, but took off as police were conducting a licence check, the Newcastle Heraldreports.
Checks found he did not hold a current licence. It is not believed he was wanted by police.
Several highway patrol vehicles gave chase along several Port Stephens roads before the motorcyclist, who was reportedly doing up to 180km/h at times of the chase, crashed off Masonite Road at Heatherbrae.
Northern Region commander Assistant Commissioner Carlene York this morning defended questions about why police had given chase despite having the man's details.
"There are obviously various reasons why police enter into a pursuit and sometimes the facts aren't always clear," Ms York said.
"But, as I say, the investigators will look at the reasons for the pursuit and whether or not those protocols were followed."
Ms York had earlier said it appeared that protocols had been followed but that there were "circumstances that the investigative team will look at to make sure that police did the right thing in the pursuit and to work out why the tragedy did occur".
"We have very strict guidelines and protocols in relation to when and how the police can intervene in a pursuit and those will be looked at in this investigation," she said.
Ms York said she would not reveal any details about the man as his family grieves his death.
She also called on any witnesses to the pursuit to contact Central Hunter police, who have taken charge of the investigation.
"A lot of visitors come to this area at this time of year as well so they may have returned home, so it is important to get the message out that we want to speak to any independent witnesses that can give us their versions of events, what they might have seen and that will help us in the investigation," Ms York said.
Anyone with information should contact Central Hunter police on 02 4934 0200 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.