The Legal Sector and Infrastructure
Austria needs transport concepts that guarantee mobility, withstand serious crises and, at the same time, protect the climate. The devastating consequences of climate change make this clear, as do the sharply rising energy prices.
The BMK is therefore taking targeted measures and supporting promising research projects to promote innovative mobility forms and concepts. A combination of legal changes and awareness-raising measures are also intended to lead Austria to the top in Europe in road safety matters. The key issues are alcohol and drugs in road traffic, “driving on sight”, the obligation to wear a seat belt, the ban on the use of mobile phones while driving, and child safety, among many others. The tasks of the BMK also include quality and risk management in the driving licence system and, in particular, matters of training and development of driving examiners as well as driving instructors, and quality assurance at the training centres.
The Austrian Road Safety Fund (VSF)
To promote road safety in Austria, the Austrian Road Safety Fund (Österreichischer Verkehrssicherheitsfonds, abbr. VSF) was established at the Federal Ministry as early as 1989. It draws its funding from the road safety contribution paid when a personal licence plate is reserved. With the development of a monitoring centre for road safety at the Federal Office for Transport (Bundesanstalt für Verkehr, abbr. BAV), a further important step was taken in 2007.
International experts assume that fatigue is to blame for up to one third of fatal road traffic accidents. This is why it is so important to provide a means of checking the balanced, legally required ratio of work time to recovery times of professional drivers with the “digital tachograph”. It increases road safety and helps to prevent fatal accidents and therefore human suffering. The national overall responsibility for the “Digital tachograph” system is borne by the Austrian-Member State Authority. The BMK is responsible for the implementation in Austria.
Roads, legal sector
The best known laws for the legal sector of roads are probably the Driving Licence Act (Führerscheingesetz, abbr. FSG), the Motor Vehicles Act (Kraftfahrgesetz, abbr. KFG) and the Road Traffic Regulations (Straßenverkehrsordnung, abbr. StVO). The Driving Licence Act generally applies on roads with public transport for driving motor vehicles and towing trailers according to the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act of 1967, which define, in particular, the technical characteristics of the vehicles, their approval and their authorisation to be used in road traffic.
The objective of the Bicycle Regulations (Fahrradverordnung) is to increase the safety of bicycles through contemporary provisions on equipment. Manufacturers, importers and retailers are obliged to only sell bicycles with the appropriate safety equipment. The consumers, in turn, must service the bicycle in such a way that the safety equipment remains complete and functional.
Motorways and expressways are exclusively considered to be federal roads. ASFINAG is responsible for their financing, planning, construction, maintenance, operation and toll collection as a company owned by the Federal Government. Before the course of a road is determined with a notice, a project like this has to go through several phases. In the sector of road planning, environmental compatibility is taken into account at all planning stages, according to the provisions of the Federal Roads Act (Bundesstraßengesetz, abbr. BStG).
Precise information on the construction work on Austria’s motorways and expressways can be found on the website of the Motorway and Expressway Financing Joint-Stock Company (Autobahnen- und Schnellstraßen-Finanzierungs-Aktiengesellschaft, abbr. ASFINAG) for its route network.
Toll and vignette
There is a toll requirement on all motorways and expressways in Austria. The exceptions to this are currently three sections where motor vehicles up to 3.5 tons maximum permissible gross weight are exempt from the toll obligation. These sections are the A1 West motorway between the state border at Walserberg and the Salzburg Nord junction, the A12 Inntal motorway between the state border at Kufstein and the Kufstein-Süd junction and the A14 Rheintal/Walgau motorway between the state border at Hörbranz and the Hohenems junction. Motor vehicles over 3.5 tons maximum permissible gross weight are, however, also subject to a toll on these sections.
The toll is paid in the form of a vignette, section toll or GO toll and ensures the development and operation of the high-level network in Austria.
For motor vehicles up to 3.5 tons maximum permissible gross weight, the vignette is compulsory on most of the motorway and expressway network, and section tolls are compulsory for some Alpine crossings. Since 2018, the digital vignette has been available in addition to the vignette toll sticker. It can be purchased at any time and from any location, and the price and validity correspond to the classic vignette. Ensure that you buy the digital vignette in good time: If purchased online, it is valid from the 18th day at the earliest, as customers can withdraw from an online purchase within 14 days. There is no 18-day waiting period for a digital vignette purchased at an ASFINAG outlet (such as filling stations) or an ASFINAG machine. A digital vignette purchased there can therefore also be immediately valid.
For motor vehicles over 3.5 tons maximum permissible gross weight – this includes all heavy goods vehicles, buses and heavy motorhomes – there is a compulsory distance-related toll on Austria’s motorways and expressways: the GO toll. Before using a motorway or expressway, a GO-Box must be obtained.