Altogether 1143 people have died in 924 crashes during the festive season up to December 28, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said on Tuesday.
KwaZulu-Natal had the most fatal accidents, with 249 deaths from 211 crashes, Peters told reporters in Durban.
In Gauteng there were 174 deaths from 156 fatal crashes. The Eastern Cape had 161 deaths from 129 fatal crashes.
Limpopo had 138 deaths from 106 fatal crashes, Mpumalanga 110 deaths from 90 fatal crashes, the Free State 95 deaths from 63 crashes, and the Western Cape 91 deaths from 78 fatal crashes.
Peters said while there was a decrease of 50 fatal crashes and 25 deaths compared to the same period in 2013, the surge in accidents and deaths since December 23 was worrying.
From December 1 to December 23 there were 539 fatal crashes resulting in 677 fatalities. From December 24 to December 28 there had been 385 fatal crashes claiming 247 lives.
That meant nearly a quarter of the festive season fatalities occurred over five days.
She said it was striking that 31 percent of all the fatal crashes took place between 10pm and 6am and 80 percent of those accidents took place in built-up areas.
During the period ending December 28, 415 people were arrested for speeding, with the highest speed recorded at 265km/h in the Free State.
Some 904 people were arrested during the same period for drunken driving.
Peters urged tavern owners to take greater responsibility for ensuring their patrons did not drive or walk home drunk.
Road Traffic Management Corporation CEO Makhosini Msibi said an initial analysis of the figures showed that most fatalities involved light motor vehicles, followed by pedestrians, light delivery vehicles, minibuses, and heavy vehicles.
Peters said there were still far too many deaths.
She recently visited a Durban hospital where nine of the hospital’s intensive care unit beds were filled with car crash victims.
“We cannot forever be standing on the road counting dead bodies,” she said. SAPA