A new approach by Northland police has given some the region's high-risk recidivist drivers hope they could be back on the road legally.
For the three-month operation - the first of its kind in Northland - the five-member Harm Reduction Team worked through a list of 28 people police identified as repeat traffic offenders.
The team contacted 20 drivers on the list after they learned two had gone to jail, three had moved out of the area and three could not be found.
Of the drivers contacted eight had welcomed the police intervention and were willing to get further help to get them back on track. Before the operation ends this month, the people who refused help would be given another opportunity.
Northland road policing team leader Senior Sergeant Steve Dickson said most of those on the list had not only a range of driving convictions but also violence or family violence records.
Helping the driver was the primary focus but support would also be given to the wider family if drugs and/or alcohol were factors in offending.
"Some of that support has included referrals to driver training programmes, alcohol and drug counselling. For some of those people it gave them hope after thinking that they would never get a licence again," Dickson said.
He said drivers who went through the court system and indefinitely disqualified from driving could, after two years, start a process towards getting their licence.
It involved counselling and passing tests and would be long term "but it was a pathway to helping people out of the cycle of the justice system".
"We know people get stuck in a spiral of disqualification. They still need to serve their sentence but we are trying to encourage them once they have done that there is a better pathway to follow to keep out of the justice system."
Dickson said it would be at least one or two years before the full results of the programme would be seen.
"If we can help one of them then that possibly might save someone from being killed or seriously injured on the road. Then it's been worth it."
Having a licence also helped lead to employment, which was a big factor in people feeling part of the community.
Dickson said the Harm Reduction Team's approach was similar to that adopted by the Meth Harm Reduction Team that looked at the bigger picture not just the offender alone.
The road toll in Northland over the past three years was trending down but there were too many deaths on the region's road.
In 2019 there were 29 fatalities, in 2018 there were 35 and in 2017 41.
So far this year the road toll stands at five after three people were killed when a car hit a tree on Whananaki Rd on Sunday. The male drivers were killed in a crash near Waipū on January 3 and when a car hit a tree in Kaitaia on January 26.
Police are still investigating the weekend's tragedy, which critically injured a child.
January's crashes have been referred to the Coroner.
Over the next few months police will focus on the top three contributing factors in fatal or serious crashes, which were speed, alcohol or drugs and failure to wear seatbelts or restraints.
"These are factors we have a choice about. We are continuing enforcement to focus on what the driving community and even those who aren't driving can do to stop detrimental behaviour. People should set up a plan if they are going to be drinking and needing transport, or drive to the conditions and drive under the speed limit."
Restraints, distraction, impairment and speed would all be on the police radar over the next few months, with a continued focus on getting unlicensed people a license.