More than 2 100 motorists were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol since December 1, the transport department said.
“This can’t be normal... [between] December 1 and today [January 2], over 2 100 people were arrested for drunk driving,” said spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso yesterday.
“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 many 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.
“Some horrific fatal crashes on our roads are a result of negligence and reckless driving, where some fool decided to drink, get into a car and drive – and wipe out a whole family.”
On Monday, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) announced that 1 207 people were killed in 1 006 accidents since the beginning of December.
The festive season period starts on December 1 and ends on January 10. He said a realistic figure of how many people died on the roads would only be available after January 10.
Rikhotso said the department relied on the police to verify the numbers.
Road users had failed South Africa, not the plan to halve the festive season death toll by 2015, RTMC spokesman Ashref Ismail said yesterday.
“In general the plan is working... If anyone failed, it’s the road users that failed,” Ismail said.
He was responding to a report in The Star yesterday that the road traffic safety management plan had failed.
Rikhotso said co-operation and partnerships between government departments on provincial and national levels, as well as civil society and the private sector, was needed to decrease the number of deaths on the road.
He said the department was looking at strengthening road regulations and procedures for people to get driver’s licences.