EU governments have declared road safety a priority, and transport ministers called on the Commission earlier this year to come forward with promised initiatives “as quickly as possible”. De Palacio will now be under pressure to deliver on these promises from France, which hopes to make significant progress on this issue during its time behind the EU wheel.Enterprise Commissioner Erkki Liikanen says he is finalising a proposal which would lay down the technical specifications for safer car fronts. Two previous attempts to introduce legislation in this area failed, but experts expect the Commission to fare better this time, with governments likely to reach agreement by the end of this year or early 2001.The Commission is expected to gain less ground in reducing alcohol-related road deaths. Initial plans to call for binding EU-wide alcohol limits for drivers were scrapped, amid fears that this would be rejected by member states. Instead, De Palacio will simply recommend that governments reduce the permitted level of alcohol in motorists’ blood to 0.5 grammes per litre, as is already the case in most countries.The Commission does, however, intend to press ahead with measures to govern technical devices used to limit the speed of light trucks and other commercial vehicles and develop guidelines for reducing accidents at dangerous junctions.But it faces a far more difficult task to change driver behaviour. This will largely depend on the quality of information campaigns within member states, such as schemes to encourage the wearing of seatbelts and the use of designated drivers who do not drink. Campaigners also believe the only way to achieve significant long-term success is to set numerical targets for reducing road-related deaths and injuries. Every year, more than 42,000 people are killed and over 1.7 million injured on EU motorways – figures which have put the Commission under intense pressure to act. “We cannot resign ourselves to a daily tragedy on this scale,” said transport chief Loyola de Palacio, whose native country Spain has the Union’s third worst record for road-related deaths. “Individually and collectively, all sections of society must play their part in promoting road safety.”Some of the proposals were left over from the previous Commission and simply need fine-tuning. The EU executive is, for example, expected to adopt measures this autumn requiring manufacturers to make car fronts safer to protect pedestrians and a recommendation – albeit non-binding – on blood alcohol limits for drivers.The Commission also intends to pump research funds into developing better driving test standards, studying the effects of medicine on motorists’ behaviour and determining whether the use of daytime lights helps reduce accidents.