• Austria's news in English
Austrian driving laws are getting stricter
William Clifford/Flickr

Austrian driving laws are getting stricter

The Local · 13 Jun 2016, 12:55

Published: 13 Jun 2016 12:55 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The measures are the latest attempts to combat mobile phone use and repeated drink driving, which authorities in Austria have struggled to tackle in recent years.

A ban on mobile phones

Everyday drivers send 200,000 texts and make 900,000 phone calls in Austria while they are driving.

Distracted driving caused 38 percent of car accidents in 2014, leading to 111 deaths, according to derStandard.

Stricter laws for mobile phone use while driving are coming into effect starting immediately. The new amendment to the Motor Vehicles Act makes using your phone to surf the web and writing and reading text messages while driving illegal and punishable with a fine of €50.

“Distraction is one of the main cases of car accidents on our roads. We want to counteract this trend with the stricter mobile phone ban,” Transport Minister Jörg Leichtfried told derStandard.

The Ministry have said, however, that drivers are still allowed to make phone calls on speakerphone and use their phone as a navigation system, as long as the phone is safely attached to the inside of their vehicle.

Alcohol locks planned for 2017

Along with this amendment to the driving laws, the government also hopes to soon introduce alcohol locks to prevent drink drivers from repeatedly offending.

Approximately 26,000 motorists lose their licence every year in Austria due to drinking driving, 7,000 continue to drive without a licence and 4,000 continue to drive while over the limit, according to a 2015 report from the Austrian Road Safety Board (KFV).

This led to calls for alcohol breathalyser immobilisers for drivers who are caught drink driving. This is going to become a reality for Austrian drivers in 2017.

The law amendment necessary to introduce these 'Alco-locks' will be evaluated before the summer and the plan is to have the first locks in use by 2017, according to the APA.

Most drink driving offenses take place during the summer month of August.

Story continues below…

Instead of piloting Alco-locks on a test group first, drivers who are caught drink driving will be given the choice between the locks and getting their licence revoked.  However if they choose the Alco-locks, their probation period will be twice the length.

Whether many people will choose to have Alco-locks remains to be seen, especially as the drivers will be expected to pay for the equipment. This could cost up to €3,000 euros for one year of driving with the Alco-lock.

Although Transport Minister Leichtfried added: “The appeal of being able to continue driving is relatively strong.”

Written by: Helena Uhl

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Radioactive uranium rocks on display in Austrian schools
Uraninite crystals. Photo: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com/Wikimedia

Education officials have carried out urgent checks in schools across the country after one of the stones on display in a classroom turned out to be radioactive.

Austrian churches slam far-right's 'God' slogan
Campaign poster for Norbert Hofer. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Austrian church officials have denounced far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer for "instrumentalising" God in a new slogan.

'Scary clown' pushes 14-year-old off his bike in Salzburg
Generic photo: Graeme Maclean/Flick

A 14-year-old boy in Salzburg has been injured after being pushed off his bike by an individual dressed as a scary clown.

Police puzzled by random stabbing of teenager in Vienna
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A 15-year-old boy who was stabbed near his home in the Vienna district of Liesing on Friday morning by a complete stranger has spoken to the police.

'Sensational' 300-year-old Madonna found in Burgenland
The head of the statue was found beside the body. Photo: ORF

A 300-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary has been found hidden in a chapel next to a Catholic church in Loretto, Burgenland.

Baumgartner 'failed to mention Red Bull' before jumping to Earth
Felix Baumgartner. Photo: Red Bull Stratos

Felix Baumgartner has been accused of cheating his Red Bull sponsors after he failed to mention the energy drink just before he jumped to Earth.

Verdict on swimming pool rape case overturned
The Theresienbad swimming pool in Vienna. Photo: Wikimedia

An Iraqi refugee who was jailed after claiming it was a sexual emergency when he raped a boy in a swimming pool has had the sentence overturned.

Vienna Comic Con promises to be 'bigger and more galactic'
Cosplay star Yaya Han. Copyright: Yaya Han/Bryan Humphrey

Comic Con returns to the Austrian capital on November 19th-20th at the Messe Wien.

Three refugees arrested on drugs charges
Cannabis plants. Photo: J. Patrick Bedell/Wikimedia

A gang of three Afghani drug dealers has been busted in Vienna.

Hungarian woman crushed by snowcat piste machine
Snowcat machine. Photo: Melensdad/Wikimedia

A young Hungarian woman has died after being crushed by a snowcat piste machine on the Dobratsch mountain in Carinthia.

12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available