Road crashes do not discriminate. They claim the lives of children, the elderly, mothers-to-be, teenagers, tourists, drunks, speedsters and sometimes whole families.
These are the faces of our road toll. The people who set out on exciting journeys and holiday adventures, but whose lives end abruptly, leaving behind grief.
This Christmas and New Year holiday period, the 12 days between Christmas Eve and January 5, claimed 17 lives, more than double the deaths in each of the past two festive seasons.
This season, the police moved from their usual 4km/h holiday speed tolerance towards a zero tolerance policy. It meant anyone travelling over the posted limit could be fined.
While some criticised the policy, saying the high number of deaths proved it was a failure, road policing chief Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff maintained it was a viable tool for reducing the road toll.
He said the enforcement policy was built upon sound research from bodies such as the World Health Organisation, the European Union and road safety scientists around the globe.
Police say ultimately it's our driving behaviour that caused this season's crashes.
"I think it's really complicated," says Waikato district road policing manager Inspector Freda Grace. "Speed and alcohol, restraints and fatigue are all contributors.
"It's the small things that often contribute to having a significant impact. Small decisions, small errors, because I don't think for a moment that anybody ever sets off on a journey with an intent on anything going wrong."
Two of the dead were tourists from South Korea and another four were foreign nationals living in New Zealand.
Mrs Grace, who has witnessed the carnage of road crashes first-hand, said no one group of drivers could be blamed. "It can strike anybody at any time."
Kiwis often took the roads for granted, she said.
"It's something that an awful lot of New Zealanders do every day and they take passengers every day, but it actually can potentially be very dangerous."
Mrs Grace believed motorists were not desensitised to the statistics, which stood at 297 deaths for 2014.
She said any road death, but particularly a Christmas-holiday fatality, haunted the families of victims forever.
"There's no more birthdays to celebrate. Every Christmas/New Year is tinged with sadness for those families, and it's something that you can maybe get through it [but] you will never, I suspect, get over it."
Bearing the news was an "awful" job. "For our officers who have to go and tell people that somebody isn't coming home, that is one of the most difficult, horrible jobs they have. You only have to look at people when you're approaching their front door - they know."
Without minimising the tragic deaths, Mrs Grace said police also had to focus on the positive driving behaviour that occurred during the holiday period.
"While we've had a few people still well over the speed limit, generally people have been under.
"There seems, for a lot of the population, a lot more tolerance and really that's what we're hoping comes out of it. We see the roads as part of our community and we ask you to behave on the roads like you would anywhere else in the community. It's patience, it's tolerance and it's a little bit of acceptance of everyone."