Data from the Ministry of Transport shows Kiwi drivers crash at higher rates than tourists visiting the country from overseas.

The numbers show that, in fact, overseas tourists are less likely to crash, compared to New Zealand drivers.

In fact, despite common perceptions, while the number of overseas tourists in New Zealand continues to rise, the rate of overseas drivers in crashes is dropping.

"We do know that many of the reasons that visitors are crashing are exactly the same as the contributing factors that are often cited or experienced in crashes involving just Kiwis as well," Ministry of Transport manager of mobility and safety Brent Johnston told Radio New Zealand.


"Interestingly, for both New Zealand and overseas drivers, failing to keep left, the rate at which that's cited as the contributing factor, that's increased for Kiwis and overseas licence holders over the last five years."

According to the data, of the 378 road deaths in 2017, 34 people died in 25 crashes that involved a foreign driver. The foreign driver was at fault in 18 of those. Only five of those were deemed to have happened because the driver failed to adjust to New Zealand roads.

Overall, across New Zealand, foreign drivers were involved in under four per cent of crashes in 2017.

However, in the West Coast, that figure sits at 43 per cent between 2013 and 2017.

In Queenstown, 33 per cent of road crashes in that period were caused by foreign drivers. In Southland, that figure is 23 per cent.

The main factors for road crashes in New Zealand remain speed, driving while impaired (by drugs or fatigue), not wearing seatbelts, and distractions (such as mobile phones).