In a vote on 18 January 2007, the Parliament called for "a higher level of political commitment" to road safety in all member states and EU institutions. The vote came in response to the Commission's mid-term review of the Road Safety Action Programme which aims to halve road deaths by 2010.
Presently, there are 41,000 deaths on European roads annually, 13,000-17,000 of which are caused by drunk drivers. The direct or indirect costs are estimated at €180 billion, or 2% of EU GDP.
The Parliament's report urges full implementation of existing member state legislation, which it says could greatly improve safety levels if observed by road users.
Other recommendations made to the Commission included calls for:
- An EU-wide zero alcohol limit for new drivers, bus drivers and professional commercial drivers involved in the transport of hazardous goods;
- a study on harmonising road signs and rules in Europe;
- the creation of a common minimum standard for driving instructors with test and certification;
- a general ban on overtaking for vehicles weighing more than 12 tonnes on one- and two-lane roads, and;
- hands-free mobile telephone systems to be made compulsory for all drivers.
However, the Commission has recognised that it has limited powers in this area. In a Communication on Reducing alcohol-related harm in Europe it reaffirmed that alcohol policy is a national competence, only allowing the Commission a co-ordination role.
In response to the vote, the Greens regretted that the Parliament had not gone further in its proposals: "Speed is the biggest killer on European roads, yet the EP opposed a Green amendment for an EU maximum speed limit of 130 km/h, with a view to tackling this problem. Drink-driving is another major factor in EU road fatalities and we criticise the failure of MEPs to support an EU-wide limit for drivers of 0.5/ml."