Australia has recorded its highest road death toll over the Christmas and New Year period in four years with nearly 70 deaths.

New South Wales reported the highest number of fatalities with 23 between December 18 and January 3, followed by Victoria with 17 deaths.

Queensland recorded 12 deaths during the holiday period and Western Australia reported ten fatalities.

The national figure is up from 56 in 2008-09, 46 in 2007-08 and 62 in 2006-07.

Police said they did not know why the toll was high but were committed to lowering it through efforts such as public education and a visible police presence.