The message of safe driving on the roads seems to be sinking in for South African drivers – and in the Eastern Cape alone, 96 fewer people were killed over the festive season.

Overall, in South Africa the number of road deaths over December – 945 – dropped by almost half compared with the same period (December 1 through to January 5) last year.

“The main contributing factor to the decrease in fatalities is an increase in visible policing, traffic and stray animal task teams that worked exceptionally well,” said Eastern Cape Transport MEC Gloria Barry.

“These officials were not allowed to (go on holiday) and this has worked well.”

In the Eastern Cape, 100 people were killed on the roads, including eight who were killed on Monday night between Dutywa and Butterworth when two trucks collided, killing seven people on the spot.

Butterworth spokesperson Captain Jackson Manatha said the eighth person died in Butterworth Hospital later.

Barry said there were 255 accidents in the province, in which about 189 people sustained serious injuries and 209 slight injuries.

Countrywide, 945 people have died over the period, compared to 1535 last year. About 734 crashes were reported in the country as a whole.

The Eastern Cape Transport Department said while the festive season statistics showed a decrease in fatal and less serious accidents there was a large increase in arrests.

Barry said the Arrive Alive campaign is always intensified during the December festive season when there was more travelling. She said 11 unroadworthy buses from different companies were impounded.