THE Road Traffic Management Corporation said 1 700 cars an hour were passing toll gates yesterday.

This comes after spokesman Simon Zwane said on Sunday that they were expecting heavy traffic with schools re-opening tomorrow and people returning to work.

Zwane said the rise in road deaths over the festive period was mainly caused by speeding and drunk driving.

“Provisional figures announced by Transport Minister Blade Nzimande last month announced that 767 people had died on the roads since the start of the holidays, with speeding and drunk driving being flagged as the major causes,” said Zwane.

In Cape Town last week Police Minister Bheki Cele identified what he said was the harmful abuse of alcohol.

“The figures we get on deaths on the road as well as figures for drowning are also associated with alcohol,” Cele said.

Meanwhile, Nzimande and the corporation announced they had partnered with liquor company Diageo South Africa for an initiative called Drive Dry to encourage people not to drink and drive.

“We need to work even harder to create road safety awareness across the country throughout the year,” Zwane said.