More people are being seriously injured and killed on Tauranga roads as congestion gets worse in the city, a new report reveals.
Injury and fatal crashes increased 35.8 per cent in the 2017/2018 financial year, according to Tauranga City Council's latest annual report.
It showed 243 people were injured or killed on the city's roads during the period - 64 more crash victims than the previous year.
Four people died, 56 were seriously injured and 121 people had minor injuries. The previous year, there were three fatalities, 17 serious injuries and 159 minor injuries from crashes in the city.
The council report described the 35.8 per cent increase as "a significant deterioration in road safety" that was "extremely disappointing" and called for more investment in road safety projects.
Congestion in the city has also gotten worse, the report said.
The average travel delay increased by about two seconds per kilometre, up from 26.05 seconds per kilometre the previous year.
Tauranga City Council Transport Committee deputy chairman Bill Grainger said congestion and driver inattention were two contributing factors to the increase in accidents.
"Life is much faster and more stressful ... [drivers'] attention isn't the same."
Joint Road Safety Committee chairwoman Margaret Murray-Benge said she was "angry as can be" at the difficulties faced trying to getting roading projects over the line in both Tauranga and the Western Bay.
Murray-Benge, who is a Western Bay District councillor, said much of her anger was directed towards the new Government's lack of investment into roading in the provinces, as well as difficulties dealing with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and council planners.
"It's a right royal pickle."
Murray-Benge said the Government's focus on road safety was frustrating and criticised the decision to make the Tauranga Northern Link a minimum of two lanes instead of four.
She said a four-lane highway with a separating median barrier would make it as safe as the Tauranga Eastern Link, judged one of the safest roads in the country.
"I'm totally frustrated, angry as can be and sick of having to wait for people to make decisions elsewhere.
"I think we should all take buses to Wellington and protest."
Tauranga and the Western Bay were both growing rapidly and the roads were at capacity, she said.
"It's not just a place for retirement anymore. It's a city and deserves a decent roading network."
Transport Minister Phil Twyford said safety was a top priority for the Government.
"The increasing number of people dying on Bay of Plenty roads is unacceptable."
Twyford said the Government was investing $235 million into making the region's roads safer, which included safety upgrades on SH2 between Waihi and Tauranga to reduce the risk of head-on and run-off crashes, as well as safety improvements on SH33 from Paengaroa to Rotorua.
He said about $65 million had been allocated to the SH2 Waihi to Ōmokoroa Safer Corridor project in the next three years.
"Our Government is striking the right balance in transport funding to create a modern, sustainable transport network and ensure all our roads are safer."
A NZ Transport Agency spokesman said improving safety in the region was a top priority. Some safety improvements had already been put in place at key intersections, and further improvements were coming through the speed management programme.
AA's Bay of Plenty district council chairman, Terry Molloy, who is also a city councillor, said there was no easy fix.
There was more traffic on the roads but Molloy also believed the increasing pace of life was a contributing factor to the higher crash rate.
"People are more pressured on roads ... there's a large mobile phone use [while driving] which is a real distraction."
It would take the entire roading community, including agencies and all users, working together to make positive change, he said.
"[We need] to work together to solve the problem."
Stuart Crosby, Bay of Plenty Regional Council Transport Committee chairman, said the statistics were "really disappointing" and he hoped appropriate safety measures would be implemented.
He said while there were more vehicles on the road, driver irresponsibility was part of accidents.
"We all see this on the road ... [such as] manoeuvres like dangerous overtaking."
"It's not good enough to just blame the road."
Head of Western Bay of Plenty road policing, Senior Sergeant Mark Pakes, said while police could not comment directly on another agency's statistics, police were concerned by any rise in accidents.
"We want people to stay safe on our Western Bay of Plenty roads. So many of those crashes are preventable, and every death is a tragedy."
Pakes said it was up to everyone on the road to help keep the roads safe.
"Police can't do this alone. You have a responsibility to yourself, your passengers, and every else on the road to do your bit."
Cyclists feeling safer on Tauranga roads
Cyclists reported feeling slightly safer on the roads than the previous year.
Forty per cent of residents surveyed said they felt safe when cycling through the city, compared to 36 per cent of respondents the previous year.
Cyclist Kristy Clegg said, however, conversations she has with people about cycling generally did not support those statistics.
The Welcome Bay-based nurse said she often spoke to people who would like to cycle but felt it was too dangerous.
She supported council investment in recreational cycling areas and trails but believed more investment in making roads safe for commuting on a bike was needed.
"There's an increasing volume of people. We're trying to catch up with infrastructure."