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Motoring in Austria

Motoring in Austria: rules and norms

If you are driving through or around Austria, there are a number of peculiarities of the system worth knowing about (some of which don't seem to be explained anywhere I could find).

bulletYou must have a Vignette to drive on Austrian motorways! You can buy one at most petrol stations, and certainly as you approach Austria from Bavaria you can get them at service stations near the border. You can get them for a variety of periods, 3 days, 2months, whole (calendar) year. Random checks are performed on motorway exits.
bulletGeneral speed restrictions in Austria (2010, my best recollection): motorways 130 km/h, other roads 100 km/h, towns 50km/h. But here's the thing: when you enter a town or village you see the town sign (rectangle) and usually no speed sign but you must slow down to 50. What is very odd is that sometimes you do get an end of speed restriction sign of some sort just as you are entering the village, but it doesn't seem to matter. The most confusing one is an end of speed restriction sign (white circle with diagonal black line), which in the UK would make you think that you could go at 60mph, doesn't mean that; you must still slow down to 50kmh unless a specific higher number is shown. Sometimes you get an end of 80kmh sign as you enter a village; again you must slow to 50, but why is it needed? I even know of one end of 50kmh sign by the village sign, the latter implying you must drive at 50, so it seems daft. (Send a message to me at  jthomas1 at ecrtee at gmail.com if you understand this better!)
bulletTraffic lights: you often get a flashing green light before it turns amber; I think this is a great idea as it gives you more time to make an informed decision about whether to speed up to try to sneak through or not. You still have a decent amount of time to get through if you are close to the traffic light. That's the good news. The bad news is that turning right at a traffic light, and sometimes left I think, is tricky as pedestrians might have right of way (i.e., they may have a green man). But there seems to be nothing to alert you to this (in Spain I recall you get a flashing light) as far as I can see. You can look at the pedestrian sign and if it is green you know they can cross, but it tricky to look for this at the same time as watching the traffic. (Send a message to me at  ecrtee at gmail.com. if you understand this better!)
bulletRoundabouts: like many European countries Austria has taken to the UK style big time (20 years ago I recall very few). But the norms seem slightly different. You only indicate as you are leaving the roundabout. (So indicating left as you approach one intending to leave at the last exit would make an Austrian think that you are going to go round it the wrong way.)
bulletFalschfahrer: if you listen to the traffic news you often hear about cars driving the wrong way up motorways (true also in Germany). Why you never hear about this in the UK but always do in Austria is a mystery to me. They even quoted annual numbers - which have gone down - on the news last week, such is the interest.
bulletYou are supposed to have headlights on all day.
bulletYou are supposed to carry with you driver's licence (with photo, or plus passport), insurance and ownership documents.
bulletFrom November 1st you have to have winter tyres on (I'm still a bit unsure whether this is just if there is snow on the roads though). One website I came across says this is no longer obligatory---this was not my impression.

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                                                                                          The Owl and the Sparrow


                                                      Revision 2012


 The Owl and the Sparrow is a book about a battle that takes place in a forest. The battle is between the birds on one side of the forest,  which they themselves  call the good side of the forest, and the birds (vultures) on the other side,  the dark side of the forest.

 Owl is the leader of the good forest and his adversary is the Condor, reputed as being the darkest force in the forest.  Into  the story enters an apparently naive sparrow who is seduced by Condor into the dark side of the forest against the rulings of Owl. Owl refuses to send help because he does not want to endanger the lives of more birds, but also because he is furious with the sparrow. He says that  sparrow was asking for trouble.

 Also on the good side of the forest are an incredibly silly group of finches who like to play games and torment the vultures. But their silliness  and game-playing skills are no match for the profound darkness of the vultures, and some are captured, and terrorised.

  Golden Eagle rules over the whole forest, but he gets little involved because he has left Owl a set of rules. Finally he gets angry with what he sees happening on both sides of the forest, and  realises that rules are not enough. So  out of his concern and love for the birds , he sends his  son, Silver Eagle, to the  forest.   The book covers the events that follow including  a bitter battle and the discovery that there is an unknown traitor within their camp.


Author Ruth Thomas

Editor Joan  Mitchell

First version typed up and suggestions made by Deborah van Welie



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