More new drivers last year

The number of people passing driving licence examinations edged up year on year in 2009, it has been reported.Statistik Austria announced today (Thurs) that 90,100 people had received licences to drive cars last year, three per cent more than in the previous year.The state agency added that most licences had been handed out in Lower Austria, Austria’s biggest province, with 17,416, followed by Upper Austria (17,367) and Styria (13,769).Around 52 per cent of those who became eligible to drive cars last year were men, it said, adding that 71 per cent of 2009 beginners were aged between 16 and 18. Statistik Austria also said that the vast majority of 93 per cent were younger than 25.Figures presented today do not say how many people failed driving tests and how often that occurred.Meanwhile, calls have been made for stricter traffic laws after a man driving at 177 kilometres per hour (kph) in a 50 kph zone in Feldkirchen, Carinthia, kept his licence. The 40-year-old Belgian speeder was allowed to continue his journey after coughing up 1,000 Euros.The regular speed limit on Austrian motorways is 130 kph, but drivers must slow down to 100 kph and 80 kph in some sections. Speed on main roads is limited to 100 kph or 80 kph, while the general limit in towns is 50 kph.Statistik Austria announced earlier this year that 247 people had lost their licenses on roads across the country during the first six months of this year, down by 14 per cent year on year.Around 4.4 million cars were registered in Austria last year, up by around two per cent compared to 2008 figures.A recent poll by insurance company Generali among its customers showed that only 10 per cent of motorists could imagine living a car-free life. Around six in 10 said they had used their cars everyday in 2009.