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AT least seven people died on New Year’s Eve in road accidents as Zimbabweans welcomed 2015, increasing the festive death toll to 98, police have said.

The accidents, which occurred as the world marched into the New Year, according to police, were mostly caused by partying people and those travelling long distances outside the country - mostly heading to South Africa and Botswana.

National Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said seven people died on New Year's Eve, an increase from one who died on the same day in 2013, bringing the total death toll to 98, up from 87 recorded in 2013.

In a statement, Nyathi said 1278 accidents have occurred so far during the festive season against a record of 1013 for 2013.

"Masvingo has witnessed the highest number of accidents and deaths mostly involving foreign registered vehicles travelling from outside the country. From 1278 accidents recorded so far, 710 people have been injured against 513 for 2013," he said.

The police, who blame the accidents on poor driving, damaged vehicles and miscalculation by some motorists before overtaking, have ruled this festive season as the bloodiest in years.

"As people celebrate the New Year, the police would like to urge the travelling public to continue exercising caution and safeguard life on the road," he said, adding that "people must not be over excited during the New Year."

Nyathi also admitted that most of the accidents were being caused by the dilapidated infrastructure which is made worse by potholes, lack of road signs and narrowing roads.

"We are appealing to people to drive during daytime as most accidents are occurring at night. Drivers must also not take alcohol when they are on the journey especially those travelling long distances," Nyathi said adding that "They should not attempt to cross flooded rivers and bridges."

According to police, 124 570 tickets have been issued so far during the festive season translating into no less than $2 million in revenue for the police force - if the fines for every ticket is calculated at $10 per ticket - which is the minimal fee charged at most road blocks - although some traffic offences go as far as $30 per spot fine.

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