Driving to Austria: When the sun comes out and the temperatures start to rise..it is always difficult to decide..should I change my tyres…..but be aware the rules say you need to keep your winter tyres on until 15th April!!!
Then it is on Summer tyres until 1st November
Asfinag, the Austrian Government for road travel in Austria, have an App, that is pretty much perfect for travellers and it is in ENGLISH!!
This is the app for you if you want access to quick, clear, up-to-date travel information for your route using your smartphone (iPhone, Android). We developed the ASFINAG “On the way” traffic app to provide you with free traffic information in a simple and easy-to-use format. Its intuitive design means that a few clicks is all it takes; whether you’re commuting, setting off on holiday or travelling for business, everything you need for your journey is at your fingertips.
Visit Asfinag web site for more info and to download app.
Austrian motorway officials are experimenting by painting warning signs on the road that are only visible when the temperature falls below freezing.
The move is a bid to cut down on the number of accidents caused by people skidding off the road on ice, especially as temperatures vary widely and Alpine roads climb and fall as they criss cross the country.
Austrian road authority Asfinag said that a difference of several degrees centigrade could be found on the same stretch of road – and have painted the new signs on several stretches of the busy A2 motorway.
Bridges where the temperatures are often very different from the road are a special focus of the campaign.
The signs painted with thermal paint include a blue snowflake surrounded by a red triangle that are only visible when it is close to freezing.
Asfinag spokesman Erich Putz said: “Of course if its snowing you don’t see them, but then again when it’s snowing you don’t need a sign to warn you to drive carefully! The real killer is the black ice and people who are not aware that the temperature has fallen to below freezing.
“It is a cheap and an effective alternative to expensive electronic street signs, and if it works it will be expanded across the country.”
The paint has already been tested in giant fridges, with the signs starting to be visible from 4 degrees centigrade and lower.
Cameras have been set up to see if the signs have an effect on drivers and to monitor performance.
Link for purchasing Road Toll Vignettes. Toll Tickets
Some things you should make sure you have before you jump in the car and set off are as follows.
*Check your insurance covers you for the trip. Most insurance policies cover you for up to 30 days abroad and some will insure for up to 90 days for each trip, but best to check.
*Next take out Breakdown cover. It is well worth the cost if you should break down.
*Next get your vehicle checked out at your local garage, it is great to have the peace of mind when you are undertaking a long drive.
There are certain items you must carry when driving in Europe otherwise you could be fined.
Fit these when you get to Dover. You must have them fitted for driving in Europe, failure to do so could deem your vehicle unfit for use on the road and invalidate your insurance!
*a GB plate must be displayed on the rear of your vehicle.
*Reflective vests for driver and all passengers. These must be worn by all in the event of a breakdown. You can be fined if you do not have one and also for passengers.
*Spare Bulbs. All your lamps must be in working order. You could be fined on the spot.
*Warning triangle, carry as large a one as possible. In the event of a breakdown, place it 50 – 150 metres behind your vehicle. Both the RAC & the AA sell European packs that will keep you on the right side of the law.
*First aid kit and Fire extinguisher. The European ‘Good Samaritan Law requires every driver to stop and provide assistance when encountering an accident or incident, providing it is safe to do so.
This may require a First aid kit or Fire extinguisher, so it is highly advisable to carry these.
If you are going to drive in the winter, either get some winter snow tyres put on your car or if you are going to be driving up to ski areas etc when you get to Austria, invest in some snow chains. You will need them!
Winter tyres are required from 1st November until 15th April each year. Remember, if you are driving with UK summer tyres and have an accident, it is likely your insurance will not pay out as your car was not fit for purpose!
Here are the latest tyre rules for winter driving in Germany and Austria. These are effective immediately.
Driving to Austria
Winter tyres are mandatory in Austria. The law states that passenger cars with a permissible maximum weight of up to 3.5 tonnes may be operated only between 1 November and until 15 April in winter conditions such as snow, slush or ice if winter tyres have been installed on all wheels. All-season tyres are also considered winter tyres if they have the “M + S” mark.
As an alternative to winter tyres, snow chains may be used on at least two driving wheels, however, these may only be used in case the road is covered by a complete or scarcely broken snow cover or sheet of ice.
Failure to comply with the law results in a fine up to 5,000 Euros and the vehicle could be impounded.
Insurance is deemed void if a vehicle which is involved in an accident between November 1 and April 15 is not fitted with winter tyres.
Austrian Drivers – What can we say?
The English like to think they can ski... well, until they get on the slopes and discover that the dry slope back home was no real help learning to ski!!
Well, the Austrians like to think they can drive..until they waken up in an ambulance or not at all!
Be aware that the Austrians do not like to be behind anyone, so tend to overtake in the most dangerous places.
They also like to get close enough to inspect what is on your rear window shelf!! Roundabouts are not their forte, so do not expect signals or any indication of what they might happen next.
They like to park as near as possible to the main doors of supermarkets even though the car park is empty! There is also a craze for driving with their ear to a mobile phone.
Speed limits are not for them, except when on a motorway and driving through road works. So in general keep your own speed low so you are repared for any eventuality.
Useful info from Austrian tourism site: Drive to Austria
Motorists are obliged to make sure they have correct tyres to suit the winter weather conditions. This may mean the use of winter tyres (with M&S or snowflake symbol) and in extreme weather, the additional use of snow chains.
Vehicles with summer tyres fitted are not allowed to be driven on roads covered with snow and ice. Fines are in place for vehicles found to be doing so!
Routes: There are various choices, you can go via France, via Belgium and Luxembourg or via Belgium – Koln – Stuttgart…this is the fastest route at 9.5 hours!! Go to www.google.co.uk and click on maps. Then type in Salzburg and then when it asks for a route from here…type in Dunkerque, or Calais, France. It will give you the route via Koln, you can then modify to suit your self. Have a good drive!!
Here is a link to the google maps, for drive to Austria. via Dunkerque.
TIP. We always tackle the journey in two halves. On the first day we get the 10 am ferry to Dunkerque. The drive takes about 7/8 hours to get to a halfway point. We have made this Permisens in Germany.
TIP. We try to fill up with enough fuel to get to Belgium, then it is a little cheaper than France.
There are two routes to take, the first is via France: After leaving Dunkerque head for LILLE. We found this town the most confusing, because on our earlier trips we were trying to religiously follow the RAC route, but it is best to take the first exit towards Bruxelles then you are on your way to Belgium. After you get past LILLE follow signs for Belgium & Luxemburg.
We found the country of Luxemburg the cheapest for fuel.
You will find that a lot of Petrol/rest stations have a turnstyle at the toilets for payment. It is worth it, the toilets are excellent, some even have automatic seat cleaning after you have stood up! Also you can use the ticket towards any purchases you make in the restaurant or shop…so the toilet is effectively free! Then it is on towards Germany and Permisens to stop overnight.
TIP. Go via Belgium, it is so much easier and a nicer drive… and there are no road tolls…unless of course you want to visit some of France!!
The standard of driving in Europe is no worse than in the UK. The drivers seem to have the same penchant for tailgating as we have in the UK! This can be quite frightening, particularly on the German Autobahns in the wet when you watch them tailgating at 100 mph! Best to stay in the inside lane!
The next day we usually aim to get away by 10am; this means we are in Salzburg for late afternoon. When we set off we head for Karlsruhe, Stuttgart and then onto Munich. The motorway leads all the way round Munich and you can pick up the connection for Salzburg and Innsbruck.
An interesting new building is the Allianz Arena, it looks like a giant tyre that has fallen on it’s side!
The inner ring road can save about 15 minutes depending on traffic, but we found it was not worthwhile getting off the motorway and the last time we tried we got stuck in rush hour traffic in the suburbs of Munich!!.
TIP. You will find as you get nearer to Austria the price of fuel seems to go up!! If you can fill up before Munich then do so. It is then cheaper to buy fuel in Austria….and remember to buy your Vignette for the Austrian motorways..otherwise the fines are hefty. You can buy them at fuel stations, between Munich and Salzburg…or at the border when you get to Austria.
TIP. Once in Austria, do take care over traffic signs. I ended up with a speeding fine on one trip because I did not notice I was within village boundaries where the speed limit went from the 80kph of the road to 50kph.
Unlike England with it’s 30mph signs as you get to a town or village, they tend to have the speed for the road then a sign for the same speed with a diagonal line through it. In other words the speed you were travelling at has been cancelled!
The traffic officer who stopped me was very pleasant, but was not happy that I had left my driving licence in my apartment! Anyhow, I was doing 74 kph in a 50 kph area and he fined me 20 euros, which I had to pay there and then. He let me off forgetting my licence although he could have also fined me for that! (carry your documents with you always, just in case!)
Speed limits: Motorways – 130km/h Country roads – 100km/h In towns/villages – 50km/h
Alcohol limit is 0.5% and drink driving is punishable with a fine and confiscation of driving licence.
You will need a Road Toll sticker if you intend to use the Motorways or Expressways in Austria. These are called Vignette (pronounced Veenyet) and can be bought at petrol/service areas as you get near to Austria. You can also buy them at the border control, but we found it easier to purchase from a service station. As of January 2016, the cost for 10 days is 8.80 euros and for 2 months 25.70 euros…or if you do a lot of trips to Austria, a year Vignette is 85.70 euros. They should be affixed to the windscreen top centre or top left.
Infringements of the toll regulations are punished with an additional charge of up to 120 euros! If you don’t have one when you should have one the fine can be from 300 – 3,000 euros!!
Also, be careful to affix gthem correctly to the windscreen…it is not like the UK, where you can put it in a plastic pocket!! Don’t think that being a tourist gets you off the hook either!
Compare the cost of a ferry and driving to Austria to the cost of a flight from your nearest Airport…..we’ve found that driving can sometimes save around £200.00, plus you get to be adventurous and see some more of Europe!
Many clients who have bought apartments in Austria regularly make the trip and take equipment for their apartments. If you are interested in a property in Austria, have a look at our property page.
All motoring legislation and toll costs is subject to change so you should check with our Austrian tourist office link for any updates before you travel. Also, to help when you get there….Here is a link for an interactive Austria map
Many of our clients who have bought property in Austria are driving to the country regularly.
If you have already driven to Austria in the past, please email us with your experiences so that we can add to these pages. email us.
If you are driving from the UK, with intention of looking for property in Austria, we have a great choice of land plots on which to erect one of our traditional wooden chalet homes.
Many property owners complain about the cost of renting a car each time they come to Austria.
You can of course drive here in your car and leave it at your property…then you need to have insurance and also it needs to stay MOT’d. This means you would have a trip back at least once each year to keep your vehicle legal. A car must be road legal in the country of registration…then it is valid in all EEC countries.
It can be well worth it just to pick up a second hand car and keep it here. But there are things to consider…as a property owner you also have a secondary residency and as such you should be driving an Austrian car or you can get your car a temporary one year registration here in Austria. Our Finance advisor can help with advice on this.