Tips for driving in Austria
27 September 2023
Advice, Checklist & Legal Requirements
Austria is a popular travel destination, well known for its cultural attractions. Also being easily accessed from other countries in the North of Europe, it’s often the case that visitors drive through Austria en route to their final destination elsewhere. Remember that you must drive on the right in Austria, be aware that radar traps are frequent and on-the-spot fines can be levied in case of speeding or other traffic offences. Make use of the comprehensive guide below or skip to our checklist and ensure you get to grips with the rules of driving in Austria.
What do I need to drive in Austria?
Only persons over 18 years of age holding valid driving licences may drive in Austria. The only exceptions to this rule are under 17 year olds who drive for practice reasons under supervision and have met the required legal conditions. When driving in Austria, you should always carry a full British licence, ownership documents and insurance details.
- · Valid driving licence
- · Proof of identification (passport)
- · Insurance documents (third part or above)
- · Proof of ownership (registration certificate)
If you do not own the vehicle you are driving, it's a good idea to obtain written permission from the registered owner.
In 2011 there were 523 road deaths in Austria. This equates to 6.2 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 3.1 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2011.
Seat belts are required for all passengers, whether in the front or back seat of the vehicle. No children under the age of twelve or 1.5m in height should be in the front seat. Austria also has laws requiring small children to be in an approved child safety seat in the back seat. On motorcycles, both the driver and passenger must wear a helmet.
Kit You Need to Carry On Board
- · High visibility warning vest
- · First Aid kit
- · Headlamps converters
- · Snow chains & Winter tyres (see below)
- · Warning triangle
Standard speed limits (km/h) unless otherwise stated by traffic signs:
Urban roads (31 mph).
Non-urban roads (62 mph).
Motorways / expressways (80 mph).
Urban roads (31 mph).
Non-urban roads (50 - 62 mph). 100 km/h towing a light trailer of less than 750 kg. 70/80 km/h for trailers between 750 and 3,500 kg.
Motorways / expressways (50 - 62 mph). 100 km/h towing a light trailer of less than 750 kg. 70/80 km/h for trailers between 750 and 3,500 kg.
The legal limit in Austria is 50 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood (and/or 10 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood for beginners, coach and HGV drivers) and penalties for driving under influence are strict.
If you use Austrian motorways ('Autobahn') and 'S' roads you must display a Motorway Vignette on the inside of the windshield of your vehicle as you enter Austria. Failure to have one will mean a heavy, on-the-spot fine. Motorway Vignettes are obtainable at all major border crossings into Austria and at large petrol stations.
There is a ban on all lorries over 7.5 tonnes laden weight (without trailer) or over 3.5 tonnes (with trailer) which applies throughout the year on all motorways on Saturdays between 15:00 hours and 24:00 hours and all day on Sundays and Public Holidays. Lorries over 7.5 tonnes laden weight are also prohibited from using motorways throughout the year between 22:00 hours and 05:00 hours. There is a ban on lorries over 7.5 tonnes laden weight overtaking on several motorways. Drivers should look out for special prohibiting signs.
It is no longer compulsory for cars to be driven with headlights switched on throughout the day all year round, although they are advised in poor weather and still mandatory for motorcycles.
Only 'hands free' mobile telephones can be used whilst driving.
Road Travel in Winter (1 November-15 April)
All vehicles with up to 3.5 tonnes laden weight must use winter tyres on all wheels in wintry road conditions (snow, slush, ice). Snow chains on the driving wheels will only be allowed as an alternative where the road is fully covered by snow and/or ice and the road surface will not be damaged by the chains. Chains or summer tyres will not be allowed for slush conditions. Heavy fines or temporary loss of vehicle may be imposed on those who ignore this legislation.
General Driving Advice
So to recap here is our checklist for driving in Austria:
- Ensure you have proper documentation: valid driving licence, ID, driving insurance covering driving in Austria, proof of ownership (registration certification).
- Take plenty of breaks when driving long distances.
- Ensure rear passengers are wearing seat belts and remember children 12 and under are not allowed to travel in the front seat. Small children are also required to be in an approved child safety seat.
- Ensure your car is equipped with reflective jacket and snow chains. Especially if travelling to snowier parts of Austria.
- Do not drink and drive.
- Observe local speed limits.
- Dipped headlights are recommended even in daytime conditions but not compulsory.
Driving through Austria to another destination? You might like to read our guides to:
Need breakdown cover for Austria? Eurobreakdown.com can provide you with comprehensive single trip breakdown cover or annual multi trip breakdown policies with a best price guarantee.
Reference: The statistics mentioned on this page were sourced from the International Transport Forum’s Road Safety Annual Report 2013 and, to the best of Eurobreakdown.com’s knowledge, are correct at the time of publication (May 2014).
For general European driving tips click here