Monday, 19 October 2015

Stupid Austrian Traffic Laws: Thank God for Charles Dickens.

You as a driver with this view must now turn
your head to look up the narrow road on the right
notwithstanding the hazards on the main road ahead
demanding your full attention.  

Vehicles emerging from this narrow lane  
are unlikely to stop. They have have 
priority under outdated Austrian traffic laws! 

It's a crazy and dangerous situation! Look at the top picture. Is there a child behind the white van? Is somebody in the van going to open a door? Is the white car on the right going to reverse out of the driveway?

Instead of observing these hazards I am obliged by law to take a risk and turn my head to look around the wheelie bins on the corner and peer into the uncontrolled narrow junction on the right to see if a vehicle happens to be approaching, and if it is then I must stop and give way to it. Just one example of the ridiculous 'priority from the right rule' in Vienna.

Yesterday, for the umpteenth time I was confronted with a hazardous situation as a result of what I can only call a stupid and outdated traffic law, which I assume dates back to the era of the horse and cart.

In darkness returning my eyes to the road ahead after having slowed and looked into a city centre junction on my right, that is peered carefully around the ubiquitous parked cars as required by law, I suddenly saw a pedestrian in the road directly ahead of me, a person who wasn't there a couple of seconds before. Fortunately on this occasion nothing unpleasant occurred.

Nowadays many pedestrians are seen on the roads in Vienna with telephones pressed to their ears and apparently oblivious to traffic. In addition the nights are drawing in, people here habitually wear dark clothing, and the street lighting in many streets is relatively poor. Children will soon be on their way to and from school in the hours of darkness.

This morning I decided to email the Austrian transport minister, a certain Alois Stöger, to ask him what he proposed to do about my dilemma, if anything. I went on his ministry's official website and completed the email pro-forma but when I clicked the button provided I got a message telling me to complete the boxes marked thus *. Obviously I had, being a reasonably intelligent type, already performed this simple task but just to be sure I checked those boxes and clicked again but nothing moved, my email was firmly stuck in that official website's electronic limbo.

And so on this particular road safety issue I have thrown in the towel.

In order to preserve my sanity I am resorting to a morsel of Dickensian wisdom. I have decided that if the law says that I as a driver must look up nearly every street on the right and risk endangering myself. my passengers, and other road users then the law as the great author wisely said is an ass.

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