The number of police pursuits in Hawke's Bay is skyrocketing, sparking claims fleeing drivers are starting to play "Russian roulette" with the public.
In the first nine months of 2019, there were 169 pursuits of fleeing drivers throughout the region, already more than any year in recent memory.
Of the 169, police abandoned 103 because of the risk to the public.
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The local rise in fleeing drivers is part of a nationwide trend over the past five years, statistics provided to Hawke's Bay Today show.
In 2009, there were 62 pursuits in a year in Hawke's Bay - a number that stayed relatively stable until 2015 when it shot up to 97.
In 2016 it shot up again to 130, in 2017 it went to 144 and in 2018 it reached a record 165, again set to be breached in 2019.
Hawke's Bay road safety police District Prevention Manager Dean Clifford said he could not say why there had been an increase in police pursuits "but we wish there wasn't".
"Our wish is that every time a person gets behind the wheel or on their bike they are focused on the task at hand and being safe.
"It's up to every one of us to be safe every time we use the road."
New Zealand First Law and Order spokesman Darroch Ball said the number of pursuit abandonments and the number of resulting crashes nationally was on track to being a record high as well.
"This is playing Russian roulette with the public and the odds are just getting progressively worse," Ball said.
"It is simply putting the public at more and more risk on our roads with no sign of the issue being addressed.
"It is clear that the current laws are not holding offenders to account nor working to deter fleeing drivers, and whatever the current approach is to reduce the danger to the public is just simply not working."
The increase in numbers showed there was no fear of being caught, he said.
"All they do is immediately start to drive dangerously and they know that police must abandon the pursuit."
In Hawke's Bay, the number of pursuit abandonments has steadily increased since 2009 when it was 16, compared to 2019 when the number to September was 103.
The number of crashes caused by fleeing drivers in the region is also on the rise, from 11 in 2009 to 27 in the nine months to September this year.
Ball said it was no coincidence the number of abandoned pursuits mirrored the increase in those who chose to flee from police and drive dangerously.
"We cannot wait for these fleeing drivers to crash or kill before they face heavy consequences," Ball said.
"We need to hold them to account the first time they choose to flee.
"We cannot continue to do nothing and ignore this epidemic, we will only see more and more people being killed on our streets."
Clifford said there were measures drivers could take this holiday season to avoid becoming a statistic.
"Wear your seatbelt if you are in a car, or a helmet if you are on your bike. This could save your life if somebody else makes a mistake on the road - or if you do," Clifford said.
Police Minister Stuart Nash has been approached for comment.