A WAR of words has erupted between the Department of Transport and a driving skills company over the number of road deaths recorded in December.
The driving company claims there was a 16percent increase in road deaths, while the department's preliminary report showed that they were 298 fewer.
Department spokesperson Logan Maistry said 1050 deaths - 276 drivers, 419 passengers and 355 pedestrians - were recorded in December.
There were 1348 deaths recorded during the same period last year, he said.
"We would not fiddle with figures. Why would we do that when we maintain that these are not only statistics but people's lives."
But driving.co.za's managing director Rob Handfield-Jones dismissed the claim and said the statistics were invalid.
He also called for the parliamentary portfolio committee on transport to investigate whether these statistics were fixed.
"The department is currently claiming the death toll for December 2008 to be 1348. It was actually 908. The death toll of 1050 for December 2009 is thus not a reduction but an increase of almost 16percent."