Compared to other OECD countries, New Zealand has a high rate of road deaths (only the USA is worse). (source)
The New Zealand fatality rate continues to be double that of the safest OECD nations (United Kingdom, Sweden and the Netherlands).
NZ road crashes result in more years of life being lost than any other source of injury and are the leading cause of death to children.
The powers that be have been slow to legislate to reduce the roll toll. Hand held cell phone use in cars was legal until 1 Nov 2009.
Oddly, police are exempt from the ban on using mobile phones when they are driving but fire and ambulance staff are subject to the same penalty as anyone else if they are caught.
New Zealand lagged behind much of the world in the amount of alcohol it allowed drivers to legally drink before getting behind the wheel. Right up until the end of 2014 the New Zealand legal limit was 0.08, allowing an average-sized man to drink a bottle of wine in 90 minutes and drive legally!
Thankfully, from 1 December 2014, the limit was reduced to 0.05, matching most other countries and the World Health Organisation recommended limit.
A drink-driving checkpoint in Auckland
NZ Transport "Safer Journeys" strategy was introduced in July 2010 hopes to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on New Zealand roads over the next decade.
The strategy is world best practice but a first for New Zealand. The priorities are Young drivers, Alcohol and drug impaired drivers, Motorcycling, Roads and roadsides, Safer speeds.