Austrians off the christmas card list!

Sep 22nd, 2011, 08:24 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 4,167
Stupid rule? If I don't pay the tolls on highways here in NJ/NY, I'll get hefty tickets. Why not in Austria? Know the rules/laws before you go. I always buy the Austrian 10 day Vignette while visiting Austria, no matter if we plan on driving highways or not. Spending 7.80 Euro is very little for my peace of mind. Live and learn. To not return to Austria in the future, that's a shame. They upheld their laws, that's all. How was anyone to know how long you were on the highway? They probably get that excuse often.
pja1 is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2011, 08:28 AM
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"not normally. Just the blue Autobahn signs."

...well then it is stupid. If there are no signs stating a toll or ticket is required then they must be expecting to trap unsuspecting people. Every road I can think of around here that has a toll applied has warnings that are clear. This applies to telling you this is the last exit before a road becomes a toll road, to a fine and warning sign by the car pool lane.

To expect people to go to that detail in reading rules and give NO warning is unfair and complete BS in my opinion.
Wekiva is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2011, 08:32 AM
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"Stupid rule? If I don't pay the tolls on highways here in NJ/NY, I'll get hefty tickets."

Exactly...but I'll bet that in NJ there is SOME type of sign stating that a toll is required...that it's not free. Can you imagine if all toll roads in NJ had no toll booths or signs...and that cops could just pull over anyone who didn't have a ticket on their bumper? People would go nuts.

I'm just going by what Alec about there not being any warning signs. I've never had the joy of driving in Austria. Maybe some day I can go back there
Wekiva is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2011, 08:44 AM
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Well, if there are no signs, and you just happened to end up on a 2-mile stretch of Autobahn, having had no plan to venture there to begin with, then it just reinforces my opinion that the Austrians are überofficious people trying to nab folks to line their coffers.

Of course it would have helped to speak German. I would have had a helluva argument with that guy.
StCirq is online now  
Sep 22nd, 2011, 08:54 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
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I'm mystified too by anybody's sense of grievance.

You are obliged to know the local rules of the road wherever you travel. You need a permit to drive Austrian highways, just like you need a permit to drive on some streets in Italy. Or in central London. These laws are stated clearly in every guidebook published about these countries. If you think they are stupid, so what? I'm glad countries in Europe restrict motor traffic more than is done in the US.

Fines are huge because they are meant to serve as deterrents to you repeating the offense and to make other people pay attention to knowing the laws.

And it works.

You are so upset you are telling the world about this. Other people will now not make your mistake. I am sincere in thanking you for posting.

By the way, just so everyone knows, a train conductor in Italy can also demand your identification and refuse to return it if you are caught without the proper stamped ticket on an Italian train and refuse to pay the expensive fine on the spot. Furthermore, if you are stopped for a traffic violation, the police can both confiscate your documents -- passport, driver's licence -- and they can also confiscate your car until the issue is resolved.

I don't know why people think tourists should get a break. They are often the worst traffic offenders in some parts of Italy. Levying fines on traffic violators to pay for government services instead of raising taxes is actually an American invention. I suspect Austrian tollworkers are pussycates compared to the meter maids of Larchmont and Bronxville New York.
zeppole is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2011, 09:01 AM
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The original poster didn't just "happen to end up on a 2 mile stretch of the Autobahn." They deliberately went there sightseeing and drove around looking for lunch.

I see no reason to swagger around insulting Austrians. The tollworker was doing his job, and the idea that people should make a cop or a tollworker's job more difficult in any language is -- well, never mind. It's pointless to lecture the wholly self-centered and self-admiring.
zeppole is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2011, 09:08 AM
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>no signs
I've never seen at stretch of Autobahn in Austria in the last few years, were it wasn't made clear that this is a toll road. There are always signs in German. Sometimes they're too small and too late. The simple solution is to set the GPS to "disallow toll roads" and that's it.
logos999 is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2011, 09:14 AM
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One of the reasons I always have (and read!) a guidebook for each country I visit is situations like this. Having read my 1998 Rick Steves guide, I knew that I would be expected to have the vignette, even though we were going to be in Austria for a very short time. Can't remember how long, but it may have been only minutes.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2011, 09:46 AM
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Yes, some highways in NJ/NY are posted as toll roads. This is because there are so many highways that are not toll roads.

Every highway in Austria is a "toll road". Why would there be a need to post every single highway/entrance in the entire country? If EVERY highway in NJ were a toll road, I wouldn't expect to see a sign everywhere.

I feel for the OP, but it's just a matter of researching the country you're visiting or driving through. This topic (Austrian vignette) comes up often enough plus any guide book would have pointed this out.

pja1 is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2011, 12:48 PM
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Some facts to consider -
Austria is just one of numerous european countries to have a highway use sticker system ( Vignettes )

Original poster fails to note or else does not know that Slovenia their holiday center per the post is one of those countries .
Thus his very own chief destination has such a system-
Perhaps renting an auto in that country, a sticker was already affixed or they were lucky and not apprehended there - But they should have already known about vignettes / highway taxes.

Most major roadways ( prefix A and S ) including rest areas in Austria are built and maintained by a quasi public company ASFINAG established by the feseral government - they collect the tolls for cars and trucks for their revenue with all of this returned to the highway system- This to reduce governmental particpation via tax money for this purpose .
Thus the highway user pays for the road. A fair and equitable system.

For the tourist - a 10 day vignette is available for less than 8 euro.
Thus one can drive on these roads for less than 1 euro per day - hardly a big sum.

The vignette system is written up in most every guide book , well mentioned on any travel website - and signage also with places to buy these stickers by border crossings.

No excuse for ignorance.

This driver most probably stopped by an employee of ASFINANG whos job it is to watch for autos without these vignettes- the law applied equally to everyone not just tourists .

Per the law - these agents can hold or confiscate documents until the fine is paid .

This fine is due on the spot-

The official is simply doing his job and within the law.

As mentionedd here several times - Op violated a well known and advertised law and must pay per the law.
molker is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2011, 11:30 PM
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Sorry to hear about your experience, I can definitely understand your reaction. I really think it's just pure bad luck as you didn't really plan to drive into Austria to begin with, it was incidental. All I can say is: just be thankful that you weren't venturing/getting lost near the Iranian border...

I remember watching a bunch of tourists from Hongkong on german TV who were extremely upset to have to pay a huge vignette penalty just after passing the German-Swiss border, they also felt that the 'stupid swiss law' was an unfair trap for unsuspecting foreign tourists. They swore on the TV camera that they would never return to Switzerland because of their experience...
DAX is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2011, 05:33 AM
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CailinDeas, thank you for your good humored cautionary tale. In partial defense of that toll worker, his job can't be much fun.
stokebailey is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2011, 07:48 AM
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Though he may get a cut of any ticket he issues?
Alec is offline  
Sep 26th, 2011, 06:25 AM
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The need for a vignette is Austria is usually well posted with shops selling them on the border.

In Ireland thousand of tourists have been fined heavily for not paying for the toll on the m50 motorway which many do not even realise is there! Or they can't figure out how to pay it. Signs are in English and Irish (very helpful) and the mechanism of payment rather confusing for a non-native.
Lawchick is offline  
Sep 26th, 2011, 06:42 AM
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Back when, I know we needed some kind of sticker when we drove from Germany into Austria. Our guidebook didn't elaborate. We whizzed over the border, passing a small building that said Vignettes. I assumed "vignettes" were postcards. Wrong! We bought a sticker/vignette at a gas station shortly thereafter.
Mimar is offline  
Sep 30th, 2011, 03:53 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 48
I will not address the unfortunate traffic issue but the issue of "crossing Austria off your Christmas list" and not considering a future visit there. I came back last week from Spain; not that it is a big deal but it was my 39th trip to Europe. Of ALL these trips I would say that a trip perhaps six years ago - two weeks by car - in Austria ONLY - would certainly be in the top tier of all our vacations. The people indeed seem to play by the proverbial rules in many respects but in terms of a people, culture and just a nice place to be; I do not think you would be disappointed. As far as the traffic incident, believe me, in my many European travels I have had my share of similiar experiences - I predict that five years from now your traffic story in Austria will be the "top travel story at the party!"
Richarda is offline  
Sep 30th, 2011, 04:10 PM
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Many people get several speeding ticktes per DAY in Austria. Would the way they do it be legal according to "our" law? Of course not, no photo, radar guns, no way this could stand in front of a court outside of Austria. We just pay. A ticket costs only 20€ and you're allowed to go up to 20km above speed limit. Those guns are inaccurate but who cares, it's cheap fun. (Try it in Switzerland!!) Pay those 20€ on the spot and you don't have to worry. No penalty points, nothing.. A gallon of gas is 6€. Who cares for speeding in Austrian.
No vignette and being cought that's not very smart, but then some things need to be punished.
logos999 is offline  
Sep 30th, 2011, 04:21 PM
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With your recent contribution Austria has plenty of money to buy their own Christmas cards.

Why do people drive in other countries without taking the quickest glance at their driving rules? They make it quite clear.

Our rental company supplied this with the car, and they supplied the little vest and gear your supposed to have if you break down.
LSky is offline  
Sep 30th, 2011, 04:28 PM
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My recollection is that at each entrance of the limited access highway there is a sign warning motorists that a vignette is necessary. I say this as someone who managed to drive from Vienna to Villach without the vignette--it's not easy.

Austria and Switzerland operate the same way, in that alternative routes are not indicated, whereas in France and Italy the signage always gives a choice between the toll road and the non-toll route.
Michael is online now  
Sep 30th, 2011, 04:32 PM
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Every highway in Austria is a "toll road".

But not every road.
Michael is online now  

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