This year 38 people have already lost their lives on Bay of Plenty roads – 21 more than this time last year and the highest total figure since 2004.

Following a series of devastating fatal crashes in April, police and the New Zealand Transport Agency are reminding all drivers to take road safety seriously and do their part to help keep everyone on the road safe.

Read more: Grandmother speaks of whānau tragedy, 7 deaths, after horror Atiamuri crash

National manager of road policing Superintendent Steve Greally said this week's Road Safety Week couldn't come at a better time.

Advertisement

"Any death on our roads is too many, so we're using Road Safety Week to remind drivers about the four simple and proven actions they can take to help keep themselves, and everyone else on the road, safe and alive."

He said all drivers had a duty to their passengers and other road users.

Crash scene where eight people have been killed and a boy critically injured following a head-on crash near Ohakuri Rd, Atiamuri, Taupo, on April 28. Photo / file
Crash scene where eight people have been killed and a boy critically injured following a head-on crash near Ohakuri Rd, Atiamuri, Taupo, on April 28. Photo / file

Greally believed four actions of proper restraints, no impairment, no distractions, and a safe speed could be the difference between a safe or fatal journey.

"There is no excuse, you either take road safety seriously or you put your own life, as well as everyone else, on the road, at risk.

"Road safety is everyone's responsibility.

"We've seen too many deaths on our roads this year. We need everyone to step up and do their part."

Always wear your seatbelt and ensure you are properly restrained.

"The chance of death or serious injury in a crash can be reduced by 60 per cent in the front seat and 44 per cent in the back seat, just by putting on a seatbelt," Greally said.

"Restraints save lives – it's that simple."

Don't drive when you are impaired.

Police statistics show alcohol or drugs are a factor in about one-third of all fatal crashes.

"If you are in any doubt at all about being safe or legal to drive when you're tired or after drinking, use your common sense and don't get behind the wheel," Greally said.

Keep your eyes and mind on the road – drive distraction-free.

Transport agency's general manager of safety, health and environment Greg Lazzaro said checking your phone or adjusting the GPS counted as a distraction.

"Doing anything that distracts you from the task of driving, if you're not paying attention, you may not have time to react and avoid a crash."

Drive to the conditions and don't exceed the speed limit.

Lazzaro said speed increases both the likelihood of a crash and the severity of the outcome, regardless of what the cause may be.

"Even when speed doesn't cause the crash, the speed on impact can be the difference between walking away from a crash or being carried away in an ambulance or a hearse," Lazzaro said.

Crash investigations are still ongoing for three separate crashes in the Taupō area that left 16 dead in April.

A further 22 have also died in the Bay of Plenty police district which helped make the total of 145 deaths on the road nationally.

Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter said, "I recognise the grief across the Taupō community following recent tragedies.

"In my role as Minister with responsibility for road safety, speaking up and delivering road safety outcomes that reduce, or eliminate, the number of lives lost or seriously injured in road crashes is the primary goal for me."

Genter admitted New Zealand roads were challenging and the consequences of small errors could be fatal.

"We're working to make our roads safer, and improve the safety of our vehicles so that simple mistakes don't turn into tragedies.

"That's why this Government has invested a record $1.4 billion over three years to upgrade some of our most dangerous roads and by 2021 the NZ Transport Agency will have upgraded thousands of kilometres of high volume, high-risk roads.

"That means more median and side barriers, rumble strips, shoulder widening and intersection improvements."

This year's Road Safety Week campaign, Save Lives #SpeakUp, coordinated by the international charity Brake calls for conversations around safe vehicles, speeds, and drivers, as well as safe routes to school, safe road design, and safe and healthy mobility.