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‘Bad and hasty drivers’: Your verdict on scrapping Austrian autobahn speed limits

This is a question that we put to readers of The Local following recent debates about the topic. Here’s what international residents in Austria had to say.

'Bad and hasty drivers': Your verdict on scrapping Austrian autobahn speed limits
The speed limit on the Autobahn in Austria is 130 km/h, but should it be changed? Photo by GUENTER SCHIFFMANN / AFP.

Austria’s neighbour, Germany, is well-known for its stretches of speed limit-free motorways.

But driving rules in the Alpine Republic are a bit more reserved with a national maximum speed limit of 130 km/h on the Autobahn. 

For some people in Austria, this is already too fast with calls for the limit to be set at 100 km/h – both for safety and to mitigate the impacts of driving on the environment.

FOR MEMBERS: When and where to avoid driving in Austria this summer

Whereas for others, the 130 km/h rule is archaic and should be raised to become more in line with Germany.

We asked our readers what they thought about the possible rule change. With 81 responses, the question certainly struck a nerve among readers. 

A slight increase, “but not Germany fast”

The most popular option was to raise the speed limit to 140 km/h, with 37 percent saying yes to going a little bit faster on the Autobahn.

Gerald Stapleton in Maria Alm, Salzburg, said: “When the speed limit was introduced, cars were much less safe than they are now. 140 kph is the new 130 kph!”

One respondent in Vienna, said: “Roads are good enough to allow 140km/h to be implemented.”

Alternatively, Scott in Salzburg suggested a compromise: “The speed limit could be reduced to 120 km/h in larger cities, for example in Salzburg and Linz, and then increased back up to 140 km/h.”

While a respondent in Styria said: “It’s safe enough.”

READ MORE: Reader question: Can I take the Austrian driving licence test in English?

“YOLO”

Out of 81 responses to the survey, 30.9 percent said they would like the speed limit to be completely removed to embrace life in the fast lane.

When asked why, Tito in Vienna put it simply with: “YOLO [you only live once].”

Another respondent said: “Driver training standards are very high. Austrians have the required skills to judge appropriate speed.”

In another suggestion of a compromise, Aaron in Klagenfurt called for an unlimited speed limit but “with exceptions near cities and in more curvy areas.”

Safety (and the environment) first 

Only 8.6 percent voted in favour of decreasing the speed limit on the Austrian Autobahn to 100 km/h, but it did generate some of the most animated responses – especially due to environmental and safety concerns.

Iiro Niinikoski in Salzburg, said: “Austrians are very bad and hasty drivers, always in a hurry. The lower the limits, the better!”

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which countries in Europe have the strictest drink-drive limits

One anonymous respondent, who compared the debate to a similar movement in the USA, said: “The reduction in the 1970s in the USA from 60 mph (miles per hour) to just 55 saved considerable lives as well as petrol. It was a noticeable change that helped the US overcome the energy crisis of the 70s. Note that a reduction to 100 km/h is still 62 mph, so it would remain quite high.”

Vitor in Vorarlberg also argued in favour of reducing the speed limit to save fuel and said: “Higher speed limits will only increase fatalities on the roads and fuel consumption. Helping almost nothing to save time.”

Similarly, Matt in Vienna said: “With the need for efficiency, we should either slow down or use public transport.”

“Austrians are mad drivers”

Finally, 23.5 percent of respondents believe the speed limit on Austrian motorways should stay the same at 130 km/h.

Jim in Tyrol put it succinctly with: “It’s fast enough.”

Everything you need to know about driving on the autobahn in Austria

But Michael Herridge in Upper Austria went further and said: “Austrians are mad drivers. Removing or raising the speed limit is dangerous.”

Another anonymous respondent added: “Many Austrians are reckless drivers. Keeping the same limit is a good compromise between being environmentally friendly and safe.”

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READER INSIGHTS

‘I feel ripped off’: What it’s really like living in Austria right now

It’s no secret that life is stressful and expensive, but how is the situation affecting international residents in Austria? We asked readers of The Local how they feel about it.

'I feel ripped off': What it’s really like living in Austria right now

A quick glance at the latest news headlines is enough to give anyone anxiety right now, with crises in Austria ranging from inflation to war and climate change.

There is also the possibility of an energy shortage this winter as the war in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia continue to impact gas supplies to Austria.

Plus, this is all taking place against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is not completely over yet.

FOR MEMBERS: From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

So how are these issues impacting international residents? And how do they feel about living in Austria?

Here’s what readers of The Local had to say.

‘It takes away optimism’

The biggest concern in Austria right now is the rising cost of living, according to the results from our latest reader survey. Almost half of all respondents (49 percent) said this was the most pressing issue for the country.

In second place was the energy crisis (27 percent), followed by climate change (18 percent) and the war in Ukraine (6 percent). No one said they are worried about Covid-19.

When asked why they are concerned about the cost of living, several readers said Austria was already an expensive country and inflation was making the situation worse.

READ ALSO: ‘Mission 11’: Austrian government reveals tips on how to save energy and fuel

But others were more specific, like Masha from Slovenia who said: “It affects me as a 33-year old. It takes away optimism to be able to afford my own apartment.”

Whereas Max Mustermann from Romania said: “Earning a decent salary does not seem to be enough anymore.” 

For those mostly concerned about the energy crisis, rising costs are also a factor, which ties in with the overall high cost of living in Austria.

Kenneth in Klagenfurt said: “The cost of energy has become unaffordable.”

Vineet Deshpande from India said he is worried about “heating being less powerful, and electricity and gas prices increasing a lot”.

And Patrick in Villach said the energy crisis is the biggest concern “because it is an essential part of living”.

READ ALSO: Why are Austrians so pessimistic right now and is there any reason to be positive?

However, Jimi in Vienna said he is most concerned about climate change, describing it as having the “greatest irreversible consequences”.

A respondent in Vienna, who is also worried about climate change, said: “The change in weather patterns is having a direct effect on nature (trees, water, etc.). In turn, this affects our lives in uncertain ways and the future of our children and grandchildren.”

READ NEXT: Austria to add €0.25 deposit to price of cans and plastic bottles

Most people are still happy to be living in Austria despite the current challenges. (Photo by Frank J on Pexels)

‘Living here is amazing’

Despite some big issues to deal with, 55 percent of respondents said they are happy living in Austria, followed by 30 percent who said “somewhat happy” and 15 percent who are unhappy.

Similarly, 65 percent said they don’t have any plans to leave the country. But out of those that do want to leave Austria, 22 percent said they will move to somewhere else and 13 percent said they plan to move back to their home country.

Joseph Abi Haidar, who is happy with life in Austria, said: “I come from Lebanon and we have a big economic crisis. Living here with all basic needs provided in such a beautiful country with history, architecture, nature and night life is amazing.”

Patrick in Villach said he is happy in Austria due to the “relative peace”.

Vineet in Vienna praised the city’s public transport system and “affordable rent prices”.

READ ALSO: ‘Stressful learning German’: How a Ukrainian family is adapting to life in Austria

But one respondent, who asked to remain anonymous, commented: “There’s a hidden aggressiveness and discomfort in people. It may become obvious soon.”

Meanwhile, Max in Vienna, who is not happy in Austria, said: “I feel ripped off at every corner.”

And one reader from Ukraine, who plans to move to another country, said: “Completely no possibility to integrate into society.”

Another respondent, who is somewhat happy in Austria, went a bit further and said: “It’s a beautiful country that offers a good standard of living for families (overall). 

“But the pandemic and now the energy crisis really illustrates the incompetence of the political leadership and the country’s two-faced approach to green energy and social assistance.  

“I am concerned that Austria will slide down the charts of being a desirable place to live. The language is also challenging, and frankly, it’s just tough trying to interact with Austrians.” 

Finally, one Austrian citizen who is currently living in the US but hoping to return to Austria to retire, simply said the cost of energy is a big concern. As a result, they are planning to move to another country instead.

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