There have been 17 more deaths on New Zealand roads this year compared to last, a number labelled "tragically high' by a top cop.

This year, there have been 213 fatal crashes that have claimed the lives of 248 people, compared to 208 crashes for the same period of 2015 that claimed the lives of 231.

National Road Policing Manager Superintendent Steve Greally said while the road toll had decreased markedly since the 1980s, the annual average of about 292 is still far too many.

"That's 292 families each year that have lost a loved one that was completely unnecessary," he said.

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"There are so many crashes that have happened right around the country at all times of the day and night that could have been avoided if a better decision was made by a driver.

"To have a break, or to take their foot off the accelerator, not having a drink, or being the sober driver - making these choices could have saved lives."

Last month alone, 25 people died on New Zealand roads compared to 19 in September 2015 and 16 in September 2014.

The number was "tragically high", he said.

"Our officers go to these crash scenes. They are bloody hard to describe but maybe people could try to imagine the sound of people screaming, the smell that you have there, the sight of blood - these are incredibly difficult situations to deal with but we just keep having to go."

"Police will come down on hard [on drivers breaking the law] and I make no apologies for that - would you like a $150 fine or a funeral, or a lifetime in a wheelchair? Because that's what is on offer."

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Greally said not only were the crash scenes horrible, but officers then had to break devastating news to families.

"Think of the sergeant or constable who has to front up to someone's front door and tell them their loved one is not coming home.

"They have to watch someone's life implode right in front of their eyes - you wouldn't wish it on your worst enemy, it's such a hard thing to do."

Drivers just did not get the message, he said.

"You can just make it so much better for yourself if you just do some basic stuff. Yours and others' welfare is in your hands.

"Police will come down on hard [on drivers breaking the law] and I make no apologies for that - would you like a $150 fine or a funeral, or a lifetime in a wheelchair? Because that's what is on offer."

Men made up 80 per cent of those killed this year, a number consistent with previous years.

Recently, there have been a number of horrible crashes around the country. At the weekend, a tanker truck driver and another man died. On Thursday, a tourist also lost his life.