Police nabbed more than 120 young drivers driving illegally during a week-long police campaign targeting high schools in the Western Bay.
The number of young people caught in the blitz has shocked school principals and the police.
Acting Senior Sergeant Wayne Hunter said police found 17 young people driving without a licence, 66 learner drivers without supervision and 42 restricted drivers travelling with passengers in the car.
Mr Hunter said police targeted the major Western Bay secondary schools before and after school and at lunchtimes each day last week.
"The result was pretty concerning. We're going to look at it again next month," he said. "They haven't got the experience. That's why there are those restrictions."
A 15-year-old unlicensed driver, who rolled a car this week, highlighted the potential dangers associated with young people ignoring the law, Mr Hunter said.
The boy took his parents' car, picked up three mates and lost control on a corner at the intersection of Welcome Bay Rd and Rocky Cutting Rd about 6.50pm on Monday, he said.
The boy crashed into a roadside barrier, rolled down a slight bank and landed next to a creek. No one was injured.
Drivers aged between 17 and 20 were responsible for most of the learner licence breaches.
"Although most were breaches around schools, there were still enough drivers apprehended after school and early evenings to cause me concern that it is not just around school times this is occurring," Mr Hunter said.
Te Puke High School principal Alan Liddle said he was shocked by the number of young people driving illegally.
Students whose parents allowed them to drive to school had to register their cars with the school, he said.
"It's all about keeping the kids safe but there's always the potential that a kid could turn up without us knowing," he said. "It relies on the kids being co-operative with the school as well."
Tauranga Boys' College principal Robert Mangan said the school also had a permitting system.
"All our boys apply for a permit to bring their car to school and their licence is sighted. If they breach their licence condition, their permit is removed and we will contact their parents and contact the police," he said.
"There are a very small number of boys we catch breaching their licence conditions. We manage their behaviour at school but not outside of there."
The police sting on high school students caught:
17 young people driving without a licence.
66 learner drivers without supervision.
42 restricted drivers travelling with passengers.