A motorists' group says half of those killed on the roads while not wearing a seatbelt are in rural areas.
The Automobile Association has profiled drivers and passengers from 300 fatal crashes in a bid to find out more about seatbelt use.
Its national manager of policy and research, Simon Douglas, said just under 30 percent of people killed on New Zealand roads were not buckled in.
"People driving in rural situations account for about half of the deaths of people not wearing seatbelts.
"If you're in a rural environment driving often at higher speeds and on roads that don't offer a lot of protection it's particularly important to put your seatbelt on."
Mr Douglas said elderly people, and tourists sitting in the back seat, also wore seatbelts at lower rates.
Meanwhile Mr Douglas said it's encouraging to see a downward trend in cycling deaths following a series of public awareness campaigns about safe cycling.
So far this year, five people have been killed while riding bicycles, equalling a record-low set in 2016.
Despite a spike in the tally of 18 last year, it's part of a long-term decrease in the average annual cycling death toll.
However, Mr Douglas said drivers and cyclists need to both be extra careful at this time of year, as more people were using the roads.