The Car Free Day took place on 22 September 2006 during the European Mobility Week, dedicated to sustainable mobility. The objective of the week is to facilitate the debate on the necessity for changes in behaviour in relation to mobility and in particular the use of the private car.
On this occasion Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities, published updated statistics on passenger cars and road accident deaths in the EU25.
Between 1990 and 2004, the total number of cars in the EU25 increased by 38%. The largest increases were recorded in Lithuania (+167%), Latvia (+142%), Portugal (+135%), Poland (+128%) and Greece (+121%). On the other hand, Sweden (+14%), Denmark (+20%) and Finland (+21%) registered the smallest increases.
There were 216 million passenger cars in total in the EU25 in 2004, that is to say 472 cars per 1 000 inhabitants on average in the EU25. This figure has to be compared to 759 cars per 1 000 inhabitants in the USA in 2003. The Member State with the highest ratio was Luxembourg, with 659 cars per 1000 inhabitants. Italy (581), Portugal (572), Germany (546), Malta (525) and Austria (501) also recorded more than one car per two inhabitants. At the other end of the scale were Slovakia (222), Hungary (280) and Latvia (297).
There were 95 road accident deaths per million inhabitants in the EU25 in 2004, the rate having decreased steadily from 162 in 1991. Despite these improvements, the total number of deaths due to road accidents was more than 43 000 in the EU25 in 2004 and EU Transport Commissioner called Member States to increase their efforts so as to halve road fatalities by 2010 compared to 2001 levels.
The fatality rate halved or more between 1991 and 2004 in Portugal, Estonia, Spain, Germany, France and Luxembourg. In 2004, the Member States with the lowest rates were Malta (33 deaths per million inhabitants), the Netherlands (49), Sweden (53) and the United Kingdom (56). Latvia (222), Lithuania (218), Cyprus (160) and Poland (150) recorded the highest rates. In the USA the rate was 146 in 2004.