Road fatalities in Gauteng are reaching alarmingly high levels this festive season with 177 people already dead. Traffic police spokesperson Busaphi Nxumalo said in a statement today: “It’s going up compared with last year.” The number of pedestrians killed – 88 between December 1 and December 26 – was higher than in the same period last year. “There were at least five known cases where minor children as young as three years old were reported to have been killed as pedestrians.” In some cases, children were killed while running across busy city roads. “There are cases where impatient drivers allegedly overtook unsafely and hit pedestrians who they did not see. In these cases, some of the drivers were also arrested for drunken driving.” At least half of all accidents on freeways occurred when pedestrians were crossing them. The worst route was the Golden Highway in the Vaal area. Eight people were killed crossing this road in this month. Nxumalo said there had been 175 crashes in which people were killed in the province since the beginning of the month. Besides the pedestrians, who made up the largest group of fatalities, 43 of those killed were drivers, 36 were passengers, six were motorcyclists and four were cyclists. A total of 57% of the reported crashes took place on weekends and public holidays and most took place between 3pm and midnight. “Of particular note is the period from 6pm on Saturday up to 6am on Sunday when up to 20% of fatal accidents occurred. This correlates with alcohol abuse and festive-period behaviour.” Nxumalo said reckless driving, not wearing seat belts and not taking precautions while driving in the rain or in the dark were other leading causes of road accidents.