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Preliminary road death toll announced

Dipuo Peters says 1,376 people have died since 1 December 2013.

Since 1 December 2013, there have been 1,447 crashes nationally, resulting in 1,376 fatalities. Picture: Supplied.

PRETORIA - Transport Minister Dipuo Peters says just over 1,400 people have died in road accidents around the country since the start of December.

The minister announced the preliminary festive season road death statistics in Centurion a short while ago.

But the figure is still expected to rise, with high traffic volumes expected this weekend ahead of schools starting next week.

Peters said the period under review started on 1 December.

"For the period under review there were 1,447 crashes nationally, with 1,376 fatalities."

She said in Gauteng there were 223 crashes, with 268 fatalities.

Peters said human error remained the major contributor to deadly crashes.

She referred to the behaviour of drivers as "reckless, irresponsible and disrespectful."

"The profile of these crashes paint an overwhelming impression of avoidable or manageable causes."

Earlier, the Democratic Alliance slammed Peter's decision to release the figures prematurely.

The party's Ian Ollis said the reporting period only ended on Monday, not today.

Ollis said this would then exclude potential fatalities during the busy weekend when many people will return home ahead of schools re-opening next week.

He said this was dishonest and an attempt at damage control because the figures would be the highest in many years.