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Automakers and EU regulators believe driverless driving will help reduce traffic accidents (Photo: Dutch government)

European Union transport ministers agreed this week to take action to make autonomous driving a reality across the 28-nation bloc.

The ministers, meeting in Amsterdam, agreed to promote a consistent legal framework for driverless driving throughout Europe; develop a policy to deal with connected and automated-vehicle data; work toward an internationally compatible vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure system; cooperate to ensure cyber security; and increase acceptance of connected and automated vehicle technologies.

The agreement comes against a backdrop of continued high levels of transport-related deaths and injuries on European roads. The EU said in a newly published report on road safety that European road deaths in 2015 dropped by 5,500 from 2010 levels to 26,000 people, but were little changed from 2014.

The EU Commission estimates that 135, 000 people were seriously injured last year and that the social costs of road fatalities and injuries totaled "at least" 100 billion euros.

Many carmakers are developing autonomous-driving technology to help make private transportation safer. Volvo Cars has a goal of zero fatalities involving its vehicles by 2020.