Traffic rules in general
Some important general traffic rules are mentioned here, including a number of traffic regulations that may deviate from your home country.
Driving under the influence
- The maximum permitted blood alcohol level is 0.49 per cent.
- For drivers who have had a driver’s license for less than two years, the limit is 0.1 per cent.
- It is forbidden to drive under the influence of drugs.
- It is forbidden for drivers of vehicles (including cyclists) to hold a mobile phone while driving.
- Note: The use of a mobile phone is also prohibited in traffic jams with slow-moving or stagnant traffic.
- Hands-free calling is allowed.
Pedestrians are obliged to walk as much as possible on the left side of the road outside the built-up area if a footpath is missing, unless this poses a danger to them.
Basic traffic rules
You have to drive on the right and overtake on the left.
- The basic rule is that right-hand drivers have priority at an intersection, unless indicated otherwise.
- Trams and other vehicles on rails also have priority if they come from the left.
- In Austria, apart from signs, usually with a white dashed line on the road surface, but sometimes also with shark teeth, it is indicated that drivers must give priority to drivers on an intersecting road.
- Note: If you drive on a priority road and stop, you lose the right to priority.
- Children’s crossing always have priority.
- Trams always have priority.
- Drivers are allowed to overtake stationary trams at walking pace, provided they do not hinder the passengers entering and exiting the vehicle and leave at least 1.5 m wide space.
- Moving trams must be overtaken on the right, unless there is insufficient space on the right; on one-way roads, the tram may also be overtaken on the left. Drivers must remain at least 20 m behind a tram if they are unable or unwilling to overtake it.
- Drivers may not drive past a stationary school bus with flashing hazard lights in the same direction.
- Overtaking is prohibited from 80 m before a railway crossing and immediately afterwards.
- In case of heavy traffic, at unclear points, on priority roads and in states with rails, parking on the left side (against the direction of travel) is prohibited. You can park on the left in a one-way street.
- In a number of large cities in Austria there are short-term parking zones (Kurzpark zones) that are marked with signs and blue stripes on the road. See oamtc.at/parken for more information.
- It is forbidden to park in areas marked with a yellow zigzag line or in places where there is an interrupted yellow line on the side of the road.
- Note: If a traffic sign with a parking ban has a sign on which work tags with a time period behind it is stated, this parking ban also applies on Saturdays (work tags means Monday through Saturday). If a parking ban does not apply during the weekend, the sign indicates Mo-Fr.
- When red and orange light up simultaneously, the light will turn green shortly thereafter.
- Drivers must be prepared to drive off.
- After the green light has blinked four times, it turns orange. Drivers must be ready to stop.
- In orange light, driving on is considered a violation, unless the driver has approached the intersection so close that safe stopping is no longer possible.
- In Vienna the giving of audio signals is forbidden, unless there is no other way to avert a danger.
- In the vicinity of hospitals, sound signals are only permitted in the event of an emergency.
- If a road consists of at least two lanes for each direction in built-up areas, the driver is free to choose which lane he wants to use, regardless of the speed of traffic on the other lanes. Outside built-up areas, this is only permitted in busy traffic jams.
- A left-hand lane with tram rails may not be used.
- When approaching an unguarded railway crossing with a white sign with an image of a train and the text auf pfeifsignal (note the whistle), drivers must stop to listen if a train is arriving (it is advised to turn off any music) and open a window).
- If a traffic jam occurs on motorways or motorways, drivers are legally obliged to release a Rettungsgasse (center passage for the emergency services). This means that they have to drive to the right or left as much as possible, so that there is sufficient space in the center for emergency vehicles, such as ambulances and police cars.
- If there is a traffic jam on roads with more than two lanes per direction, the drivers in the left-most lane must drive as far to the left as possible and the drivers in the other lanes as much as possible to the right.
- See asfinag.at/rettungsgasse for more information.
- If a vehicle comes to a stop in a tunnel, the engine must be switched off.
- Running the engine warm when stationary is prohibited.
- In other circumstances, for example when waiting for a level crossing, the engine is not allowed to run unnecessarily.
- As a driver you are obliged to wear a safety vest when you leave your vehicle in the event of a breakdown or an accident outside the built-up area.
- In the event of a breakdown or accident, you must place a warning triangle behind your vehicle at a sufficient distance.
- In the event of an accident that has resulted in physical injury, you as a driver are required to call the police.
On narrow mountain roads, the person who can most easily divert or drive back must give way.
It is forbidden to stand still along a solid yellow line on the side of the road and within 15 m of a tram or bus stop.
Middle passage at traffic jam
Let the engine run
An emergency phone along the motorway is equipped with light. This is activated as a flashing light by ghost drivers, traffic accidents, traffic jams, fog and the like. If this light flashes, drivers must reduce speed and watch out for approaching a dangerous situation.
Breakdown or accident
Traffic rules car
Traffic rules car
Motorists are only obliged to use light during the day when visibility is seriously obstructed.
- Children under 14 years of age and under 1.50 m must be transported in the front and rear in an approved and suitable child seat or on an approved and suitable booster seat with safety belts.
- Children under 14 years of age, but taller than 1.35 m may also wear a height-adjustable safety belt, provided that the belt fits properly and does not run over the neck.
- Children under the age of 14 and over 1.50 m must wear a normal seat belt in the front and rear.
- In a car where a child seat or safety belts are missing, children under 3 years of age may not be transported and children up to 14 years of age may only be transported in the rear.
- If a child is transported in a child safety seat with its back to the front, the airbag must be switched off.
Smoking in the car
- In Austria since 1 May 2018 it is forbidden for every passenger of a car or camper to smoke in the presence of a child under 18 years of age.
- Loads that protrude at the front and / or back must be marked with a red cloth. If the load protrudes more than 1 m forwards or backwards, it must be marked with a 25 x 40 cm white marker board with a 5 cm wide red reflective edge. Loads that protrude more than 1 m must be marked with lighting in the dark and when visibility is poor.
- The load may extend a maximum of 20 cm in width on both sides to a width of 2.55 m. For determining the width of the vehicle, the exterior mirrors are counted. Sideways projecting cargo must be marked.
- The minimum tread depth for tires in Austria is 1.6 mm, just like in the Netherlands and other EU countries. This is strictly checked in Austria and if it is established that the tires (of a car, motorhome or caravan) are worn or damaged in such a way that the vehicle is a danger to road safety, a motorist may be denied access to the country.
Built-in xenon lamps
- If the installation of the xenon lamps (gas discharge lamps) in a car has been carried out in accordance with the applicable rules and its use has been approved in for example the Netherlands, you can in principle take it on the road in Austria. We recommend you to check this for your home country.
Traffic rules caravan and trailer
- Width combination (mirrors excluded): 2.55 m
- Height combination: 4 m
- Trailer length (drawbar included): 12 m
- Length combination: 18.75 m
- Note: A possible bicycle carrier on the back is included in the length.
It is mandatory to bring at least one wheel chock for a caravan or trailer with a permitted maximum mass of more than 750 kg.
Extra long vehicles, such as buses, trucks, but also cars that tow a caravan or (longer) trailer, must maintain a distance of at least 50 meters on roads outside built-up areas compared to other extra long vehicles. This rule is intended to make catching up with longer vehicles easier and to prevent column formation.
A caravan may not be left without a car in a public parking lot (for example, a parking lot along the motorway). In particular in nature reserves and along lakes, there are restrictions regarding the parking of a caravan (which may differ per province). When in doubt, it is wise to inquire on the spot.
Extra wide trailer
For the transport of a trailer that is wider than 2.55 m, a special permit must be applied for. For more information, contact the Federal Ministry of Transport of Austria or visit bmvit.gv.at.
Traffic rules motorcycle
Traffic rules motorcycle
- The driver and passenger must wear a helmet.
- On a trike or quad, wearing a helmet is mandatory unless the vehicle has a closed cabin and the seats are fitted with safety belts.
The use of low beam during the day is mandatory.
- It is forbidden to transport more than one passenger.
- It is forbidden to transport children under the age of 13 on the back of the motorcycle. In addition, children may only be transported by motorcycle if they can reach the footrests with their feet.
- In a sidecar, children up to 12 years old must be transported in a child seat suitable for them.
- The sides of the sidecar must be high enough to reach the child’s chest height.
It is permitted to tow a trailer.
Note: With a traffic sign indicating a overtaking prohibition, motorcycles may not overtake vehicles with more than two wheels. However, engines may be overtaken.
- Motorcyclists may carefully drive past a row of stationary cars (not slow-moving cars) of a few hundred meters.
- Driving on an emergency lane, bus lane or cycle path is prohibited at all times.
- It is also forbidden to pass a traffic jam on a (fast) road in the middle passage (Rettungsgasse).
Backpack on the chest
It is forbidden to ride a motorcycle with a rucksack on the chest if it impedes the movement or visibility of the driver.
Traffic rules moped
Traffic rules moped
- In Austria, a moped is called a Motorfahrrad or Moped. There is no separate definition of a moped; this falls under the mopeds.
- A Motorfahrrad cannot be faster than 45 km/h.
Wearing a helmet is mandatory on mopeds.
Mopeds and light mopeds must also have dipped headlights during the day.
- To be able to transport a passenger, the moped must be equipped with footrests and its own saddle or a buddy seat.
- Children under the age of 8 must be transported in a suitable child seat.
Place on the road
It is forbidden for mopeds to ride on cycle paths.
Drive side by side
Mopeds are not allowed to ride next to each other.
Traffic rules bicycle
Traffic rules bicycle
- Wearing a helmet is mandatory for children under 12 years of age.
- In the Lower Austria, children up to the age of 15 must wear a helmet, even when they are not cycling on public roads, but for example on a playground.
Lighting and other requirements
- Bicycles must be equipped with fixed lamps. The light on the front of the bicycle must be white or yellow and the back of the bicycle on the color red.
- The bicycle must have a red reflector behind it, yellow reflectors on the pedals and white or yellow reflectors on the wheels.
- The bicycle must also be equipped with properly functioning brakes and a bell.
- Persons of 16 years and older may carry a passenger on the bicycle, if the bicycle is suitable for this.
- Children under the age of 8 may only be transported in a suitable child seat at the back of the bicycle. Children may not be transported in a bicycle seat.
- If you are transporting children on the back of the bicycle, you must ensure that the spokes of the rear wheel are protected with a dress guard or otherwise.
- Children 12 years and older can cycle without supervision. Children under 12 years of age are only allowed to cycle under the supervision of someone who is at least 16 years old.
- Children are allowed to cycle unaccompanied from the age of 10 if they have a bicycle license.
- It is prohibited in Austria to participate in traffic with a bicycle to which a children’s bicycle is connected via a tandem bar.
- It is permitted to ride a bicycle with a single-axle trailer.
- If the trailer is wider than 80 cm and is not used for passenger transport, you must drive on the road and not on the cycle path.
Cycling under the influence
- Cyclists may not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- The maximum permitted blood alcohol level is 0.8 per cent
- Cyclists are not allowed to hold a mobile phone while driving. You are therefore not allowed to call, send text messages or app while cycling.
- Hands-free calling is allowed.
Drive side by side
Cyclists may only ride alongside each other on cycle paths and residential areas.
Place on the road
- Where there are cycle paths, they must also be used.
- Where bicycle paths are missing, you should drive as much as possible on the right-hand side of the road.
- The maximum speed on a cycle path is 30 km/h.
Crossing place for cyclists
- In Austria there are special crossings places for cyclists (Radfahrerüberfahrten) which are indicated by a square blue sign with a white triangle with a black cyclist.
- There are also crossings that cyclists have to share with pedestrians.
- Cyclists have priority over a special crossing place for cyclists.
- When approaching a crossing place for cyclists, you may not cycle faster than 10 km/h.
- Bicycles may only be placed on the sidewalk if the sidewalk is at least 2.50 m wide.
- It is forbidden to park bicycles at a bus or tram stop.
- For an electric bicycle (Elektro-Fahrrad, Pedelec) with pedal assistance up to 25 km / h that has a capacity of up to 600 watts, the same rules apply as for a normal bicycle.
- The minimum age for cycling on an unaccompanied electric bicycle is 12 years, or 10 years with a bicycle driver’s license.
- Wearing a bicycle helmet is only compulsory for children up to 12 years old. All drivers of electric bicycles are advised to wear a bicycle helmet.
- Electric bicycles should use the cycle path whenever possible.
- The same rules apply for an electric bicycle with pedal assistance up to 45 km / h (S-pedelec) as for a moped.
- The minimum age to ride a speedpedelec is 15 years and the driver must be in possession of the moped license.
- The driver is obliged to wear an approved moped helmet (standard ECE 22.05). As far as is known, wearing a special speedpedelec helmet (standard NTA 8776: 2016) is not permitted.
- The driver must have a sturdy and dirt-resistant first aid kit.
- Speedpedelecs may not ride on the cycle path.
- Mandatory in winter period in winter conditions – The use of winter tires is mandatory from 1 November to 15 April in winter conditions.
- There are winter conditions when the road is covered with snow, snow mud or ice.
- Tires with the designation M + S (or M&S, M / S, M-S etc.) are legally regarded as winter tires. We advise you to use tires on which both the M + S designation and a snowflake symbol are indicated.
- The minimum tread depth for radial tires is 4 mm (for diagonal tires it is 5 mm). Tires with a less deep profile are considered summer tires, even if the designation M + S is present on these tires.
- Winter tires must be mounted on all wheels. This obligation does not apply to any trailer.
If the road is completely, or almost entirely, covered with an ice or snow layer, it is also permitted to mount snow chains on summer tires on at least the driven wheels instead of winter tires.
- In light snowfall, snow mud or on roads that are only partially covered with snow or ice, it is forbidden to ride on snow chains or on summer tires and therefore winter tires are mandatory.
- If you drive on summer tires (and without snow chains) during winter conditions and you become involved in an accident, there is a chance that you will be (partly) held liable for the accident because you have unnecessarily endangered traffic.
- Please note: In Germany and Luxembourg, winter tires are mandatory in winter conditions and it is not sufficient to bring snow chains.
- Mandatory when signposted – The use of snow chains is mandatory if indicated by a round, blue sign with a white car tire with a snow chain. The obligation to fit snow chains also applies to cars with winter tires or studded tires (unless a bottom sign at the snow chain sign indicates that cars with such tires are relieved of this obligation).
- It is strongly recommended to bring snow chains in the car in Austria during the winter period.
- Snow chains may only be used on roads that are completely, or almost completely, covered with snow or ice and must be fitted in such a way that they do not damage the road surface.
- If snow chains are mandatory, they must in any case be mounted on the driven wheels.
- For cars driving on snow chains, a maximum speed of 50 km / h applies, or lower if a lower maximum speed is specified in a manual for the chains.
- Plastic snow chains are not permitted for the time being.
- Snow chains can possibly be rented at major border crossings.
- Allowed in the winter period – Nail tires are permitted from October 1 to May 31 (only radial tires / steel belt tires with nails). If the weather conditions require it, this period can be extended locally.
- The nail tires must be mounted on all wheels, including those of a possible trailer.
- A sign with the official symbol for nail tires must be attached to the back of the car or trailer. This sign is among others available at the ÖAMTC and at gas stations. The maximum speed when using studded tires is 100 km / h on motorways and 80 km / h on the other roads.
Vehicles from 3500 kg
- For commercial vehicles with a permitted maximum mass of 3500 kg or more, the use of winter tires is mandatory from 15 November to 15 March regardless of weather conditions or road conditions.
- The winter tires must be mounted at least on the driven wheels.
- The minimum tread depth is 5 mm for radial tires and 6 mm for diagonal tires.
- Snow chains for the driven wheels must also be present in the vehicle during this period.
- Motor home owners with a permitted maximum mass of 3500 kg or more are therefore advised to mount winter tires and snow chains on the driven wheels during this period, in order to prevent any problems.
Car free of ice and snow
- Drivers are obliged to clear all windows of a car from snow and ice before they drive off. It is therefore recommended to take an ice scraper with you in the car.
- Any snow on the roof must also be removed.
- Note: It is forbidden to run the engine while scratching the windows.
- It is the responsibility of the driver of a car to ensure that the required winter equipment is present. When renting a car in Austria, it is therefore very important that the driver checks whether the car has the correct winter equipment.
For moped cars with closed bodywork, just like for passenger cars, winter tires (or possibly snow chains) are required in winter conditions.
Here you will find more information about Austria.