PRETORIA, Dec 25 (NNN-SABC) — Six hundred and seventy-seven people have died on South Africa’s roads since the beginning of December, resulting from 539 crashes, says Transport Minister Dipuo Peters.

Announcing the figures here Wednesday, the minister said this represented a decline from the same period last year when there were 917 fatalities from 764 crashes.

The Transport Ministry, which believes some of the carnage could have been avoided, said road fatalities were among the main causes of death in the country. KwaZulu Natal Province recorded the most fatalities followed by Eastern Cape and Limpopo provinces while Northern Cape Province had the lowest figure.

Peters said most of the accidents were attributed to unsafe overtaking and drunk-driving. “The current state of affairs as of the 1st of December 2014 to 23rd December 2014 tells us a story, which is that passengers are mostly affected followed by pedestrians. The two groups respectively account for 37 per cent and 35 per cent of total fatalities for the period Dec 1 to 23.”

So far, there has been a 35 per cent decline in fatalities compared with the same period last year and a 42 per cent reduction in the number of crashes. Peters attributed police visibility and education to the decline in road deaths, calling on all road users to be ambassadors of road safety.

However, she expressed concern about the fatalities and she again urged all road users to observe traffic rules.

“One death is one too many and I wish to make an impassioned plea to all those that will be using our roads and travelling to various destinations to use our roads responsibly. Ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy, take regular breaks, adhere to the speed limit, do not cross the road when it is not safe to do so, do not drink and drive, do not text and drive,” she said.

Light motor vehicles have contributed to 46 per cent of road crashes on the country’s roads since the beginning of this month. The Traffic Department is confronted with challenges pertaining to the attitude of road users and irresponsible usage of the roads.