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FOOD & DRINK

Austrian driving laws are getting stricter

Austria is introducing tighter restrictions for drivers, including a ban on mobile phone use and the use of alcohol locks for people who have been previously caught drink driving.

Austrian driving laws are getting stricter
William Clifford/Flickr

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.

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

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FOOD & DRINK

Hugo, Almdudler and Radler: 5 drinks to try in Austria this summer

It is easier to face the summer heat with a proper cold drink in your hands. Austrians know that well and have created (or made popular) several delicious alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Here are five you should try.

Hugo, Almdudler and Radler: 5 drinks to try in Austria this summer

The debate of which is the perfect summer drink is undoubtedly a very controversial one.

While many people would argue that nothing can beat the Italian Aperol Spritz (which is also very popular in Austria), some would rather stay with a simple cold beer.

If you are team Spritz, then you should know that Austria has a love for things g’spritzt, with their own versions of sparkling drinks (with or without alcohol). However, for those who prefer a beer, the alpine country is home to several famous brands, including the Styrian Gösser, the Viennese Ottakringer, and Stiegl, from Salzburg.

READ ALSO: Five Austrian destinations you can reach by train to escape the heat

In any case, when living or visiting a new country, it’s always fun to try out the traditional dishes and, in this case, beverages.

Here are five drinks you should try during the Austrian summer.

Hugo drink summer drink austria

Hugo is a very popular (and sweet) summer drink in Austria (Photo by Greta Farnedi on Unsplash)

Hugo

Some say this is the Austrian answer to the Aperol Spritz, but its sweetness from the elderflower syrup makes it quite different from the bitter bright orange Aperol.

There is also a bit of controversy as to where this drink, which Austrians love to drink during a nice summer afternoon, originates.

Internationally, it seems to be widely accepted that this alcoholic aperitif comes from South Tyrol, a German-speaking region of Italy with deep Austrian roots. Ask any Austrian, though, and they will tell that just proves the drink is from Austria.

READ ALSO: Eight ways to talk about the heat like a true Austrian

Italian or Austrian, the sweet drink is made with prosecco, elderflower syrup, seltzer and mint leaves. Serve it with lots of ice in a large glass, and you have a perfect summer drink.

white wine drinks party

Mix your white wine with sparkling water and you get a refreshing gespritzt (Photo by Matthieu Joannon on Unsplash)

weiß gespritzt

This is extremely popular, relatively cheap even in fancy restaurants, and somewhat controversial, but take some white wine and add a little sparkling water (sometimes ice) and you get a weiß gespritzt, or a g’spritzter.

READ ALSO: The best Austrian wineries to visit this summer

Not everyone appreciates mixing your wine with water, but it makes for a refreshing and lighter drink. In Austrian restaurants, you might be asked whether you want a summer gespritzt, which means it has higher water content and, therefore, is lighter, or a “normal” one.

It is by no means an Austrian drink, and you may have to ask for a Weinschorle instead of a Gespritzter in Germany, but it is a popular drink in the German world.

gösser radler drink

Austrian brands sell some of the most popular Radlers in Europe (Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash)

Radler

A Radler is another drink that though not from Austria, is extremely popular here. Not only that but some of the most popular Radlers are sold by Austrian brands.

Traditionally, all you need to make a Radler is to mix beer and lemonade. However, the drink is also found bottled and sold by beer companies such as Gösser and Ottakringer. The mix has also expanded and you can discover Radlers with a citrus or berry mix.

READ ALSO: Austrian old folks toast success of ‘Grandma and Grandpa’ beer

It is a lighter and sweeter beer, perfect for enjoying the summer with a fresh drink that is not so alcoholic.

Mixing apple juice and sparkling water creates a perfect non-alcoholic summer drink. (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP)

Apfelspritz

Following the Austrian love for adding sparkling water to drinks, a very common and non-alcoholic beverage is the Apfelspritz.

It is a mix of apple juice and (you guessed it) sparkling water. It is popular in Biergarten as a non-alcoholic alternative, with kids joining in on toasts with their apple and soda mix.

The drink is also very common in Germany (where it is known as Apfelschorle), Switzerland and Hungary.

READ ALSO: Cash and Schnapps: A guide to visiting pubs and cafes in Austria

almdualer gerhard schilling

Almdudler’s CEO Gerhard Schilling holds a bottle of the traditional Austrian drink (© Philipp Lipiarski)

Almdudler

Another option for a summer light and non-alcoholic drink is the Almdudler, which is technically the name of the Austrian brand that sells the famous carbonated soft drink.

The drink is a blend of 32 “natural alpine herbs, beet sugar and soda water”, according to the website. It has a very distinctive logo and can be found in almost all Austrian households – being one of the most popular beverages in the country.

Did we forget about your favourite summer drink? Then let us know in the comments below or send us an email at [email protected]

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