Half of killed drivers are foreigners, study shows

Almost one in two drivers killed on Austrian motorways are foreigners, new research has revealed.Traffic Club Austria (VCÖ) said today (Thurs) that 49 per cent of motorists who died on the country’s motorways during the past five years were foreigners. The independent traffic and transportation watchdog added that 44 per cent of people involved in accidents on Austrian motorways during that period came from abroad.VCÖ explained foreigners were involved in 793 of the 1,790 highway accidents registered last year. It said 2,032 of them were Germans, followed by 244 Hungarians and 210 Czechs.The number of people who lost their lives in traffic accidents in Austria’s nine provinces dropped by 14 per cent year on year to 247 in 2009, according to federal statistics authority Statistik Austria.Austrian authorities have been criticised by various pressure groups for being too lenient on traffic offenders.Traffic safety experts were furious by recent news that a Belgian motorcyclist doing 177 kilometres per hour (kph) in the town centre of Feldkirchen, Carinthia, was allowed to keep his licence after agreeing to pay 1,000 Euros on the spot.In what is regarded as an attempt to silence their critics, political decision-makers implemented stricter regulations earlier this week.The federal parliament in Vienna unanimously decided on Tuesday that speeding drivers will have to hand over their licence for six instead of two weeks if they breach limits by more than 60 kph. If they are caught going 90 kph faster than allowed, offenders will have to do without a driving licence for six months from next year.The five parties represented in the parliament also agreed foreign speeders’ car or motorcycle keys will be confiscated unless they pay their fines of 36 Euros or more instantly.The regular speed limit on Austrian motorways is 130 kph, but drivers must slow down to 100 kph and 80 kph in some sections for environmental reasons or because the highway runs close to populated areas.Speed at main roads is limited to 100 kph or 80 kph., while the general limit in towns and is 50 kph. There are, however, many 30 kph zones especially around schools and kindergartens.