The driver, who has not yet been identified, ran off, leaving the 19 refugees in the back of the van.
Several motorists called the police on Thursday morning after spotting the abandoned van parked on the motorway hard shoulder, with its hazard lights flashing.
A highway patrol found 19 people crammed in the back, who all said they came from Afghanistan and had been picked up by the driver from a Hungarian refugee camp.
They told police that the van had broken down during the night, and the driver had run off and left them to fend for themselves. They had been waiting for five hours on the side of the road before the police arrived.
They have been taken to refugee camps in Traiskirchen, Lower Austria and Thalham in St. Georgen, Upper Austria.