Pre-occupied drivers who fail to focus on the road will often experience periods of memory loss, Northland police warn.
Regional road policing manager, Inspector Murray Hodson, said distracted drivers endangered all road users.
"You've got to maintain the highest level of concentration.
"We can all recall when we've driven along the road and can't remember the corner we've taken."
His comments follow the release of new research into Kiwi drivers showing at least a third of motorists came close to crashing in the past six months.
The AA survey, which involved about 1000 people throughout New Zealand, also revealed 34 per cent of participants had been "surprised by a vehicle that seemed to come out of nowhere".
About 15 per cent also admitted using cellphones while driving.
AA spokesman Dylan Thomsen said inattention was a major factor in many crashes.
"Distraction and people simply not seeing somebody else on the road contribute to a huge number of crashes.
"There are a lot of crashes where people aren't speeding, are sober, and just miss seeing something," he said.
Analysis of 2012 pedestrian crashes drew similar results. "About 30 per cent of the crashes involved a driver not seeing the pedestrian and about 50 per cent of the crashes involved a pedestrian stepping out on to the road without looking or seeing a vehicle," Mr Thomsen said.
New Zealand's road toll stood at 109 deaths up to last Friday since the beginning of January, according to the New Zealand Transport Agency.
Mr Thomsen said research indicated a large number of crashes occurred within a short distance of people's homes. APNZ
Keep your eyes on the road and avoid distractions.
Put cellphones away.
Take regular breaks.
If you're feeling tired, pull over and have a quick nap or go for a walk.
Turn headlights on in wintry weather.
- Source AA