Pretoria — Transport Minister Ben Martins has appealed to motorists to drive safely and to prioritise life, particularly over the festive season.
"Despite all efforts by government, the private sector and civil society to curb the road fatality rate, we continue to see the loss of lives on our roads, sometimes in situations wherein fatalities or even crashes could have been avoided," said Martins on Sunday.
Since the start of the festive season, 765 people have been killed.
The minister added that if motorists aimed to save a life each time they got into their vehicle, progress would be made in the fight against the carnage on South African roads.
Dangerous overtaking; excessive speeding at night and during poor weather conditions; poor following distances; drinking and driving and walking has resulted in horrific crashes leading to a loss of lives, he said.
The department said 17 of the major crashes it has recorded since 1 December 2012 were head-on collisions due to dangerous overtaking. Meanwhile, 46% of people who die on South African roads are pedestrians.
"It is unacceptable that we continue to lose lives at this rate despite all attempts ... to raise awareness about road safety. We need a 360 degree turn in driver attitudes if we are to succeed. People need a rethink of their responsibilities towards a safe and sustainable society," he added.
The minister urged traffic officers to deal decisively with reckless and negligent behaviour on roads.
"I call on traffic officers not to compromise when dealing with transgressions of rules of the road. Anyone who's caught breaking the law must face the applicable punishment as prescribed by legislation."
Government would also not put up with dishonest behaviour and corruption among officers.
"Any act of dereliction of duty on the part of any officer has potential consequences, sometimes even fatal," said Martins.
Meanwhile, Transport Deputy Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga, together with Eastern Cape MEC for Roads and Transport, Thandiswa Marawu, interacted with motorists, passengers and pedestrians as part of the 2012 National Festive Season Road Safety Campaign on Saturday.
Chikunga and Marawu were joined by road traffic law enforcement officers and the South African Police Service, among others.