And road safety campaigners are calling on all EU countries to take more action on reducing road casualties through better law enforcement.
The EU has set itself the target of halving the number of road deaths on EU roads by 2010 and progress towards this was discussed by transport officials at the Fourth Verona Conference on Road Safety.
EU transport commissioner Jacques Barrot said: ‘I am delighted to announce that we had an 8% reduction of fatalities in the EU between autumn 2005 and autumn 2006. This is twice the rate we had in the years before. If we can maintain this trend, we will achieve our ambitious goal of halving the number of road fatalities between 2001 and 2010.’
According to the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), France, Belgium and Luxembourg have been the most effective in cutting the number of road deaths, with other strong performances coming from Sweden, the Netherlands and Latvia, which at one time had the worst casualty rate.
A statement added: ‘But data gathered by ETSC also shows that the majority of EU countries will have difficulty in contributing their share of reaching the EU target.’
It claims Lithuania, Hungary, Ireland and Poland have progressed least over recent years and wants each country to properly enforce legislation relating to drink-driving, speeding and seatbelt use.
ETSC executive director Jorg Beckmann said: ‘Empty words and non-committal conclusions from our transport ministers are not enough.
‘European citizens deserve concrete actions to combat the daily death toll on Europe’s roads.’