Drive along the Hawke's Bay side of the Napier-Taihape Rd, and you'll find scatterings of crashed and broken-down vehicles lying on the verge.

Some have been there for days, while others have become a part of the scenery - sitting there for months on end.

But those who drive the region's rural roads frequently, say they've become a safety hazard and more effort needs to be made to get them out sooner.

A truck driver, who did not want to be named, said it was "disconcerting" for those driving past as there was no obvious way of knowing it was an old wreck.


Thinking someone could be trapped in the car, a driver's focus could leave the road easily, he said.

"I've noticed there is a pattern forming, whenever there is a car accident, the car doesn't get towed anymore, even though the emergency services have attended," he said.

He questions the motivation for why the vehicles are being left on the side of the road.

"Who's being stuck with the bill? If it comes down to budget restraints, surely [the council, NZTA or the police] can remove them and then pass the bill on to the owner of the crashed car."

Former tow-truck driver Adam Codlin said the wrecks were symptomatic of the cost associated with removing the vehicle.

"People can't afford to get an expensive towing company out to pull these cars out of the ditches," he said.

"And when they do return to collect it, it is either burned out or totally wrecked."

A NZ Transport Agency spokeswoman said it dealt with the state highway network, and hazards were generally noted quickly by crews.


She said not seen an increase in the number of vehicles left on state highways in the region and was not aware of any complaints.

Any vehicle parked in an unsafe position would be relocated somewhere safe, but to remove a vehicle from a ditch, NZTA first looks for the registered owner and request that they remove the vehicle.

"They are generally given seven days to advise what action they intend to take, and will remove the vehicle at their, or their insurance company's, cost."

If NZTA can't find the registered owner it will, through its contractors, remove the vehicle and store it until it can legally be disposed of.

"There is a formal public notification period that is required, to allow vehicles to be claimed. If unclaimed then the vehicle is sold and proceeds used to cover the cost of removal."

A Hawke's Bay Regional Council spokeswoman said if an abandoned vehicle is an environmental risk, they are "quickly contacted", usually through their Pollution Hotline (0800 108 838).

And if it is abandoned by a river, they are "quick to go and collect and dispose of the vehicle".

The Hastings District Council, which deals with wrecks on local roads, said they were not seeing an "explosion" of the problem.

However, if a complaint is made, the vehicle was assessed as to whether it's causing a safety issue.

If it is not, police are contacted to ensure they are not seeking the owner, regulatory solutions manager John Payne said.

"If it's not a police matter, photos are taken of the vehicle, a note is left on it, the tyres are marked to ascertain if the vehicle moves over the next seven days and if applicable the neighbours are contacted in efforts to seek the owner."

If the owner can't be found this way, the details are sought through the registration number of the vehicle.

The registered owner is then written to and the HDC bylaw dictates the car must be moved within seven days.

If they do not move it, council tows the car to the tow yard. The costs involved are recouped from the owner.