A notorious stretch of highway has come under fire again following a three-car crash that injured an elderly woman.
Emergency services including police, three fire engines and an ambulance were called to the scene yesterday at the intersection of State Highway 2 and Te Puna Station Rd.
The elderly woman was trapped in her vehicle for a short period of time, behind an airbag, before being released by the Fire Service.
Western Bay of Plenty road policing Sergeant Wayne Hunter said police were notified at 12pm.
There was a nose-to-tail between two vehicles and a station wagon, driven by a learner driver, had been shunted over a bank and into a paddock.
''The elderly lady was pulling right into Te Puna Rd and she failed to see the cars going north,'' Mr Hunter said.
''She pulled out in front of a car that has tried to take evasive action ... and it pushed the learner driver down into the paddock.''
The station wagon in the paddock had four occupants, while a woman and young child were in a white station wagon and the elderly driver of a small hatchback was alone.
Mr Hunter said there was nothing wrong with the road: ''You have just got to pay attention''.
''It is a normal, busy intersection but as long as you pay attention there are no issues here.''
The father of the learner driver, who lived in the area, told the Bay of Plenty Times that ''everyone who lives here is concerned about the traffic on the road''.
''It's crazy. There are just going to be more accidents until they sort it out. I was born in Katikati and have lived here for 50 years and this road has not changed much but there are about twenty times more cars on it.''
''There is so much that need to be done.''
The accident had given his family a fright, he said.
Local resident Sean Lett was at the scene and said the highway was ''seriously dangerous'' and it would just be a matter of time before someone was killed.
''It's a disgrace. An absolute disgrace.''
The New Zealand Transport Agency was investigating if the capacity improvements planned for between Omokoroa and Te Puna should be brought forward.
Central North Island regional relationships director Parekawhia McLean said the agency had seen strong growth in traffic volumes, with the number of vehicles on the road in 2016 increasing by more than 6 per cent near Katikati and more than 12 per cent between Omokoroa and Tauranga.
"As well as the safety work planned for between Omokoroa and Te Puna, we will also look to bring forward other improvements to support economic growth and development."
A St John Northern Communications spokesman said one person was taken to Tauranga Hospital in moderate condition.
Traffic was banked up towards Katikati and through Bethlehem.