Drink driving, not speeding, has been identified as the biggest problem on Matapihi roads.

Western Bay of Plenty head of road policing Ian Campion said crash data from the past five years showed 28 per cent of crashes in the area were reported as drivers travelling too fast for the conditions. However, 60 per cent of the crashes involved at least one of the drivers being over the legal alcohol limit. This increased to 70 per cent in the rural section of Matapihi Rd.

Read more: Safety concerns over Matapihi road 'ignored'

"While it can't be denied there are some issues with speed, there is also a significant issue with impaired drivers."

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Mr Campion said drivers, Matapihi residents especially, needed to take greater care when travelling. "From a layman's perspective, looking at these statistics, it's easy to make the assumption a lot of these drivers are local drivers. It's not a through road. Familiarity breeds contempt sometimes."

He said the majority of drivers involved in crashes were under the age of 25, many were inexperienced drivers, didn't have a licence or disqualified drivers.

"Obviously the message is quite simple - do not drink and drive and keep speed down."