Staying safe on the roads

Most adults drive regularly, so it’s easy to switch into autopilot, especially if it’s a road you travel regularly. But it only takes a moment of inattention for a crash to happen.

Many Kiwis die on our roads each year, including drivers, passengers and pedestrians. You can play a part in making sure this doesn't keep happening.

Switching off your mobile phone and buckling up is a great start to staying safe on the road, but there are other ways to making sure you don’t cause or become another road statistic.

Here are our top tips for keeping you and your whānau safe on the road:

Image credit: Pexels

1. Wear seat belts

Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest safety measures you and your passengers can take. It could save your life, by stopping you from being thrown out of or around your vehicle in a crash. Wearing a three-point seat belt halves your risk of death in a crash.

2. Don’t get distracted

Many factors, such as mobile phones, kids yelling in the back seat or traffic can cause you to lose concentration when you’re driving. Turn your phone on to silent and ask the kids to use their ‘car voice’ so you can stay focused on the road.

3. Follow all road rules

Don’t drive if you have been drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs. Watch your speed – look out for changes in traffic, road and weather conditions, and reduce your speed accordingly.

4. Stay calm

No-one enjoys being stuck in traffic or being cut off by another driver. But if it happens, stay calm, take a few deep breaths and don’t let your irritation affect your driving.

5. Use age-appropriate car seats

Up until children turn 7 years old they must be secured in an approved child restraint, such as a car seat or booster seat. Even if your child is aged over 7 Waka Kotahi (NZ Transport Agency) recommends you still use an appropriate child restraint (or booster seat) until your child reaches 148 cm tall or is 11 years old. 

6. Don’t drive when you’re tired

If you’ve got a big day of driving, try and get a good night’s sleep the night before. Take regular breaks when driving long distance. Get out of the car, stretch your legs or grab a coffee. If you can, share the driving with another person. Find out more about sleep and safe driving.

7. Make sure your medicines don't affect your driving

Some prescription and over-the-counter medicines can affect you in a way that makes it unsafe for you to drive. In Aotearoa New Zealand, it is against the law to drive while impaired, including by your medicines. Find out more about driving and medicines.

8. Plan your journey

Allow plenty of time to get to your destination, allowing time for unexpected traffic or road works. Check the weather before you start out. If a storm or heavy rain is expected allow extra time or consider travelling at another time.

Learn more 

Brake works to prevent road deaths and injuries, and support people who have been injured or lost someone in a road crash.
Road safety tips to teach your children Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency
Information to support senior drivers Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency


  1. Death on New Zealand roads since 1921 Ministry of Transport, NZ, 2019
  2. Using child restraints in New Zealand Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency
  3. Driving safely Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.