Road safety on four wheels
The most important key points of road safety in Austria.
To promote road safety in Austria, the Austrian Road Safety Fund (Österreichischer Verkehrssicherheitsfonds, abbr. VSF) was established in 1989. The VSF was established at the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) and draws its funding from the road safety contribution paid when a personal licence plate is reserved. The VSF funding is used to promote measures, projects, studies and research to improve safety in road traffic, particularly within the framework of road safety education as well.
The obligation to wear a seat belt
Every person in a motor vehicle must wear a seat belt – whether they are driving, in the passenger seat or on the back seat. A seat belt helps in every accident and is essential for survival in severe cases. Please ensure consistent, different and correct securing of adults, pregnant persons, children, pets and the load in vehicles and do not forget to reach for your seat belt yourself, as well!
Poor driving conditions
Poor weather conditions, such as frost, also mean worse road conditions. The speed must therefore always be adjusted and chosen carefully. Rain, snow and fog also lead to poor visibility. It is therefore necessary to: Reduce your speed, increase your distance, switch on your dipped headlights and hold the steering wheel with both hands. Vulnerable road users, such as those on a bicycle or on foot, can easily be overlooked or seen too late. At dawn and dusk, and at night, also pay particular attention to deer crossing, especially in rural areas. The rear fog lamp is only to be switched on at a visibility of less than 50 metres, as it otherwise blinds others. In queues of traffic and in fog-free sections, the rear fog lamp must be switched off in any event, in contrast to the front fog lamps.
Tyres must have a certain tread depth, which is at least four, five or six millimetres, depending on the type of vehicle and type of tyre. From 1 November until 15 April of the following year, there is a situational winter equipment obligation for drivers of cars and trucks up to 3.5 tons maximum permissible gross weight. This means that the drivers must have winter tyres fitted in this period in winter driving conditions.
For drivers of trucks over 3.5 tons maximum permissible gross weight and buses, winter tyres are mandatory. This means that the vehicle must always have winter tyres fitted in the specified period, regardless of whether or not there is snow on the road. This obligation applies for trucks over 3.5 tons from 1 November until 15 April and for buses from 1 November until 15 March.
For cars and trucks with a maximum permissible gross weight of no more than 3.5 tons, snow chains can be used as an alternative to winter tyres. The chains must be fitted on at least two drive wheels. This is, however, only permitted if the road is continuously or almost continuously covered with snow or ice.
Mobile phone ban
Distraction is one of the main causes of accidents in Austria. For this reason, the mobile phone ban at the wheel was expanded. Talking on the phone while driving is only permitted with a hands-free system.
The emergency corridor
The emergency corridor is mandatory on the Austrian motorways and expressways. Drivers are obligated to form a lane when traffic is held up to allow emergency vehicles to pass through: in two-lane road sections in the middle, in three or four-lane road sections between the far left and the adjacent lane.
Conduct in an emergency
If an accident has occurred, all the parties involved face major challenges. The most commonplace things are often forgotten in the process. The BMK has designed small adhesive strips with the most important emergency numbers, for which space can easily be found on, for example, smartphones. The automatic vehicle emergency service “eCall” provides a Europe-wide emergency service for motor vehicles on the basis of the already existing European emergency telephone number 112.
In an emergency, every second counts. There is only one thing you can do wrong in first aid – to do nothing. The Federal Ministry has compiled a compact card for first aid, which provides information on the most important steps, precautions and emergency telephone numbers.