A trauma review team, established by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board, has looked at times and locations of crashes to see if anything can be done to prevent further incidents.
A major cause of trauma injuries in the Bay of Plenty is from road crashes. Although the number and rate of road deaths have decreased internationally, they remain a major public health burden.
About 2500 New Zealanders die each year as a result of trauma and about 25,000 require hospital care for their injuries. Trauma is the leading cause of death between the ages of 5 to 45.
As part of a Ministry of Health supported initiative, the Bay of Plenty District Health Board, in conjunction with other agencies and other district health boards, has established a trauma review team.
The team is tasked with assessing the effectiveness of the health board's trauma systems in saving and salvaging lives and in improving this system.
One of the areas being addressed by the trauma review team, is where and when road traffic injuries occur and if anything can be done to prevent them.
The Road Safety Committee with representation from police, St Johns, and the council also monitor this.
The New Zealand Transport Agency also use a Crash Analysis System (CAS) to log all reported road crashes throughout the country and monitor problem areas.
The trauma team at the Bay of Plenty District Health Board has identified the contributing factors of 64 separate road crashes that happened in the region between January 1 and November 30 last year that resulted in a hospital stay of more than 24 hours for the driver or passengers.
Bay of Plenty District Health Board chief operating officer Phillip Balmer said they found driver error remained a significant cause of most crashes, while roading and weather conditions accounted for a very small percentage of crashes.
"Our findings showed that driver error combined with excessive speed on open roads were the most common factors contributing towards Bay of Plenty road crashes. Drivers' errors included the driver falling asleep at the wheel, excessive speed, inexperience, crossing the centre line, swerving to avoid objects and pulling out in traffic."
Road crashes involving drivers who were under the influence of alcohol or illicit substances were excluded from the review and if included would have trebled the figures, Mr Balmer said.
While the crashes happened relatively evenly throughout the Bay of Plenty region, they were mainly on the major state highways.
"The review identified the region's crash hot spot at the intersection of State Highways 2 and 33 at Paengaroa. Of the five crashes at this site, four were head on collisions, resulting in multiple victims from each crash coming into hospital," he said.
"The urban areas of Whakatane and Tauranga accounted for two and four crashes respectively causing patients to be admitted to hospital for more than 24 hours. The review suggests that urban road traffic crashes did not result in significant injuries due to low vehicle speed."
There were nine separate motorcycle crashes, four of which occurred around the Opotiki district.
Mr Balmer said there was no common cause for the motorcycle crashes as the causes ranged from sun-strike, being hit by a truck, losing control and excessive speed.
Notably most of the crashes resulting in hospital admissions of greater than 24 hours occurred between midday and 10pm.
Crash numbers peaked at the high traffic periods - between 7am and 9am, midday and 1pm and 4pm and 6pm. There were only four crashes between 10pm and 7am.
The information for the review was taken from St John Ambulance records, the Midland DHB's Regional Trauma System data sheets, ACC forms, hospital web based patient administration systems, and from patients themselves.