he driver of this mangled wreck managed to survive this horrific accident after hitting a pole on the N1 just after the N7 turnoff direction Paarl. A passerby took the driver away from the scene. According to police on the scene the driver was sitting at home with minor injuries - Photo: Nizaar Marlie

Johannesburg -

A total of 1068 people died in road accidents across the country between the beginning of the month and Christmas Day, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) said on Thursday.

RTMC spokesman Ashref Ismail said the death toll was a result of 890 fatal crashes across South Africa from December 1 to December 25.

Last year between the period of December 1 and January 10 2012, 1 771 fatalities were reported. The previous year, 1 551 people had died in the same period.

Earlier, in December the RTMC said it had hoped to see a 25 percent reduction in road deaths over the festive season.

On Thursday, Ismail said 18 major fatal accidents had taken place during the festive season thus far.

A major fatal accident is classified as such when either more than five people die, more than five vehicles are involved, a vehicle is carrying a hazardous substance or the accident is deemed high profile for another reason.

A head-on collision was the cause of eleven of the major fatal accidents.

A total of 2 174 people were arrested for driving-related offences.

More than half of the arrests, 1 153 people, were for drunken driving.

Other reasons for arrest included incorrect taxi or public transport permits, reckless and negligent driving, excessive speeding and overcrowding.

Ismail said traffic volumes were expected to increase on main roads during the New Year's weekend.

He warned however that where traffic volumes were low, people often had “a tendency for excessive speeding resulting in single vehicle and high speed crashes”. - Sapa