A passerby looks at an overturned car on the N4, were five people were killed, four critical and three seriously injured during the road crash saturday. Picture:Netcare 911

The death toll on South African roads over the festive season stands at 1279.

Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) spokesman Ashref Ismail said on Thursday: “Preliminary reports from the SA Police Services for the period 1 December to 1 January indicated 1067 crashes, resulting in 1279 fatalities.”

The casualty list stood at 1207 on Monday, 31 December.

Ismail said there had been 21 major accidents reported between December 1 last year and January 1 this year.

The department of transport on Wednesday said more than 2100 drivers had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol since 1December .

“This can't be normal.”

Spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso said: “Families and the economy continue to suffer and bleed, because we are losing manpower when people are killed in accidents. The department is concerned because we continue to witness unnecessary loss of lives.”

Alcohol and excessive speed, he said, were “common denominators” in many of the fatal crashes over the festive season.

“We need to remove habitual offenders from our roads - they are turning our roads into killing fields,” he said. - Sapa