Taupō District mayor David Trewavas will be lobbying Government and the road authority to act now to make roads in his district safer after multiple fatalities in less than a month.

He wants state highway safety improvements for his district expedited following three fatal crashes in which 16 people lost their lives.

Trewavas is preparing to lobby the New Zealand Transport Agency, saying the number of crashes showed that improvements to the roads were critical.

It's time to "stop talking, and start making roads safer", Trewavas said in a statement.


He also wanted the council to look at its own roads and prioritise any potentially dangerous sections of roads ahead of other works.

"While roads may look visually okay, there can be hidden dangers," he said.

Trewavas' calls come at the start of Road Safety Week and in the wake of the third multiple traffic crash in the Taupō District where three people died in the early hours of Saturday morning.

A van headed south collided with a truck at Hatepe.

This followed the deaths of eight people near Atiamuri on April 26, and five who died in a crash at Tirohanga on April 1.

All three incidents are being investigated by the Serious Crash Unit.

"Something needs to change and that change needs to happen now," Trewavas said.

"To make a difference we all need to play our part. Losing one life in our district is too many. To lose 16, especially in such a short period, is incomprehensible," he said.


"Enough is enough."

Police had indicated that fatigue was likely to be a common thread across all three crashes and the Taupō district's unique geographic location meant by the time people arrived at their destination they had normally driven for some length of time.

"We greet people from the east, west, north and south, and it does take some time to get here. The best thing a driver can do is take a moment to recharge their batteries even at the slightest hint of fatigue," Trewavas said.

And that also applied to locals, he said in the statement.

"Research shows it is usually 20 minutes from home when fatigue kicks in, so if you are feeling it, pull over and stop."

It has been confirmed that some of the passengers killed in the crashes were not wearing seatbelts.


"When people become a licensed driver they take on the responsibility not only for their own life but for those travelling with them," Trewavas said.

"I call on passengers to keep drivers honest too, we all have a part to play and if you are travelling in a vehicle you need to make it click."

Trewavas said he would also be writing to the chief coroner to express his frustration at getting some of the causes of crashes out to the public.

"Education goes hand in hand with enforcement and engineering when it comes to road safety and we need to get messages out to people in a timely way. Together we can make a change and we can make it now."

Inspector Brent Crowe, the Bay of Plenty Road Policing Manager, is calling on every road user to play their part in halting crashes. Photo /file
Inspector Brent Crowe, the Bay of Plenty Road Policing Manager, is calling on every road user to play their part in halting crashes. Photo /file

Inspector Brent Crowe, the Bay of Plenty's road policing manager, said making our roads safe was a joint effort between a number of partners, including the police, the NZTA and local and district authorities.

"We all have our part to play to help keep everyone safe on our roads and we regularly work together.


"This said, to halt the upward trend of needless and preventable road deaths the police also need every road user to be accountable for their actions and drive in an appropriate manner."

Crowe said all potential factors will be examined by crash investigators to determine why the recent fatal crashes in the Taupō District happened.

NZTA's acting director of regional relationships Ross I'Anson said
every one of these deaths and serious injuries had a devastating and wide-reaching impact on families and communities.

"It is a terrible fact that on average seven people die and more than 50 are reported seriously injured every week on New Zealand's roads."

I'Anson said the Government has made improving road safety as a top priority.

"The NZ Transport Agency is working to deliver a national programme of safety improvements which aims to prevent 160 deaths and serious injuries per year.


"SH1 through the Taupō district is one of the corridors we are looking at as part of this programme, and we share the mayor's desire to improve safety through the region.

"We are investigating a range of potential safety improvements on this corridor and subject to funding may include the installation of side and median safety barriers, intersection improvements, rumble strips, shoulder widening, better signage, and speed management."

16 people lost their lives in three separate crashes:

• Five people died in a single-vehicle accident on Tirohanga Rd on April 1:
Peter Senior Rangikataua, 44, Rangi Rangikataua, 26, Michelle Morgan-Rangikataua, 15, Aroha Morgan-Rangikataua, 14, and Kahukura Morgan-Rangikataua, 12.

• Eight people killed in two-vehicle collision on April 26:
Margaret "Margs" Luke, 35, David Wiremu Poutawa, 42, and their children; Trinity Luke, 13, Chanley Poutawa, 11, Jahnero Poutawa, 10, Akacia Poutawa, 8, and Khyus Poutawa, 7.
Jenny Rodgers, 51, also died in the same crash.

• Three people killed on May 4 at Hatepe, south of Taupō:
Joseph Steven Takau, 41, Viliami Tatofi Fifita, 22, and Siale O'Failoto Koloi, 22, all from Auckland.