Pretoria - KwaZulu-Natal recorded the highest Easter road death toll in 2017, despite the Northern Cape having the sharpest percentage increase in deaths, it emerged on Friday.Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi addressed the media on the statistics at the GCIS in Pretoria.During the briefing it emerged that the highest percentage increase in fatalities was recorded in the Northern Cape, with an increase of 175% - from four in 2016, to 11 in 2017.KwaZulu-Natal recorded the highest number of deaths and an increase of 111% - from 28, to 59 deaths. The total number of fatalities in 2017 was 235.Nationally, according to authorities, the total number of road deaths this Easter increased by 51%, or a number of 79, from 156 over the same period in 2016.However, this 2017's fatalities are still significantly lower than the 333 fatalities recorded in 2015.The Free State stood apart from other provinces in that road deaths had decreased.Maswanganyi said the Free State recorded a 27% decline in fatalities, to a figure of eight, compared to 11 in 2016.Increase in GautengA provincial breakdown showed that, compared to 2016:ProvincePercentage20162017Northern Cape175%411KwaZulu-Natal111%2859Gauteng58%2438Western Cape58%1422North West50%812Mpumalanga33%2128Limpopo30%2330Eastern Cape17%2427Free State-27%118The report on road deaths showed that many people who died were victims of hit and run incidents, of jaywalking, or were motorists who were driving at high speeds. Nationally, the total number of registered vehicles over the 2017 Easter period was 12 047 404, compared to 11 818 124 in the same period in 2016.A total 174 253 vehicles were stopped and checked, with the intention of removing unroadworthy vehicles from the roads in all provinces.Most fatal crashes 'after hours'Passengers made up 50% of the death toll, followed by pedestrians at 24.5%, drivers at 19.8%, and cyclists at 5.7%.Motorcars and light delivery vehicles contributed to, respectively, 49% and 20%, of fatal crashes.Minibus vehicles contributed 7.6%, and buses 1.1%.Most fatal crashes happened "after hours" - from 18:00 to 22:00.Peaks were recorded between 01:00 - 02:00, 06:00 - 07:00 – 08:00, and 11:00 - 12:00.Maswanganyi said road deaths had a serious impact on the country."If a father or mother dies on the road, the children remain orphans. Those who get injured will no longer work again and end up getting social grants," he said.Maswanganyi said everyone needed to spread the message of road safety, like they had spread the message of HIV and Aids."We can't be a country where we have a police woman or man on every corner of the street; it is going to cost the country a lot. It doesn't work like that," Maswanganyi said.