Picture: Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Johannesburg - The death toll on South African roads over the festive season stands at 1279, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) said on Thursday.

“Preliminary reports from the SAPS 1/8SA Police Service 3/8 for the period December 1 (2012) to January 1 (2013) indicated 1067 crashes, resulting in 1279 fatalities,” said spokesman Ashref Ismail.

The death toll stood at 1207 on Monday.

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 motorists had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol since December 1.

“This can't be normal... (between) December 1 and today (January 2), over 2100 people were arrested for drunk driving,” said spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso.

“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.”

In the accidents over the festive season, alcohol and excessive speed were “common denominators” in many of the fatal crashes.

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