Road Traffic Accidents In Austria, 2001-03

The number of accidents and persons injured has increased slightly again, but fatalities are at a low

With a total of 43 426 road accidents causing personal injury, in 2003, there was an increase of 251 accidents or +0.6% compared to the previous year. As a result, the number of persons injured rose by 197 to 56 881 (+0.3%), while the number of persons killed, 931, fell by 25 (-2.6%).

An overview of road accidents in Austria in 2001, 2002, and 2003:



Change 2002/2003

absolutein %
Killed    958    956    931–  25-2.6%

In 2003, the average number of road accidents with casualties was 119 per day, 156 persons were injured, and almost three were killed daily.

An analysis of the accidents on Austria’s roads from 1994 to 2003 shows a 3% increase and a 6% increase in the number of persons injured. However, deaths fell by almost one-third (-30%) within these ten years.

More accidents and persons injured, but fewer deaths caused by drink-driving

Two thousand eight hundred forty-one accidents involving persons under the influence of alcohol (+3.8%) in which 4 020 road users were injured (+3.1%), and 84 were killed (-8.7%). These are the official statistics concerning road accidents caused by alcohol in 2003.

In 1998, introducing a new blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.5% led to fewer drink-driving accidents and casualties. However, since then, these statistics have risen steadily.

Given the increasing number of drunk-driving accidents, in the middle of July 2002, the Federal Ministry of the Interior ordered by decree that all drivers involved in accidents with persons injured must undergo a breath test. These tightened police checks also lowered the estimated number of unreported cases. Furthermore, since 1998, more accidents have been classified as drink-driving accidents than previously due to the lower BAC limit.

Drink-driving remains an issue concerning men. However, the proportion of women affected is increasing. 90% of drivers involved in accidents under the influence of alcohol are men. Ten years ago, the proportion of women was around 5%. It is now as high as 10%.

42% of drink-driving accidents are recorded on Saturdays and Sundays: at weekends, every 9th accident is demonstrably alcohol-related. At nighttimes especially, a high proportion of the casualties are drink-driving accidents. For example, every third accident is alcohol-related in the early morning after midnight.

During the night, predominantly young people drive under the influence of alcohol. However, on weekend nights (from Friday to Saturday and from Saturday to Sunday), around 50% of drunk drivers are between 17 and 24 years of age.

A child is injured on Austria’s roads every two hours

The number of children killed in road accidents rose sharply during the first six months of 2003. Thirty-seven children were dead, in contrast to 25 the previous year, a rise of 48%. The number of children injured increased by 51 or 1.3% to 4 074, although the number of accidents involving children remained unchanged.

Almost half of the children injured were passengers in cars (44%); significantly fewer children sustaining injuries were pedestrians (26%) or cyclists (21%).

The situation concerning children killed is even more dramatic: more than half of these children were car passengers (20 out of 37, or 54%), 19% were pedestrians, and 14% were cyclists.

In 1994, the 15th Austrian Motor Vehicles Act Amendment introduced important safety provisions, namely the requirement to use child restraint systems when conveying children up to 12. Since January 1, 2002, drivers have ensured that children up to 14 wear a restraint system.

Despite this, almost half of the children killed in car accidents were not using a child restraint system at the time of the accident. In 2003, the figure in respect of children injured was 16%. These figures signify that every sixth child injured did not use a child restraint system while driving in a car.

Almost 18 000 young people are injured on Austria’s roads every year

Being on the streets is particularly hazardous for young people. As in previous years, the highest values are reported for young people aged 18 and 19, with 2 213 and 2 237 casualties for these ages, respectively. 31% of all persons injured and 23% killed were young people aged 15 to 24-year-old age group.

Hitherto, the number of persons injured dramatically rose after 16 years. However, this age has, in part, been reduced by one year. Overall, the number of 15-year-olds injured on the roads has increased by 50% due to significantly higher numbers of wounded moped drivers. However, the number of 15-year-olds killed remained the same.

The end of 2002 saw the abolition of the driving behavior and attitude test that required one to obtain a moped license from age 15. Testing was undertaken at a high cost. The dissolution of the test is reflected in the accident statistics: the number of 15-year-old moped drivers injured almost trebled (from 218 to 625) in the year under review compared to 2002.

Fewer deaths of unprotected road users

Compared to the previous year, in 2003, the number of pedestrians and cyclists injured and killed fell significantly. However, 2002 saw a sharp rise in these statistics. One-fifth of all persons killed in road accidents were “unprotected road users.”

As in previous years, around 60% of pedestrians killed were over 60, and a third were over 75. About 50% of the road users killed in built-up areas were pedestrians and cyclists.

More persons injured in accidents involving two-wheeled motor vehicles

The number of drivers and passengers of two-wheeled motor vehicles injured or killed increased by around 750. The number of deaths in motorcycle accidents increased particularly sharply. One of the reasons for this rise was the long periods of good weather in the year 2003. These had a strong influence on the number of two-wheeled vehicles on the roads and hence on the number of accidents too.

524 people killed in road accidents (56%) were car passengers, and half of them were not wearing a seatbelt

Three hundred seventy-one car drivers and 153 passengers were killed during the year under review. Compared with 2002, the number of car passengers killed remained constant. It is particularly alarming that almost half (46%) of car occupants killed were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.

An analysis of the number of car drivers injured according to the extent of their injuries shows that the risk of being killed in an accident was, in 2003, seven times greater for those not wearing their seatbelts than those who wore them when the accident occurred. Furthermore, the proportion of persons seriously injured was significantly higher for those who refused to wear their seatbelts than for those who did.

Buses are the safest mode of transport.

In 2003, there were no road accident deaths among users of public service buses and coaches. Since 1961, the only other year this was the case was 1987. The number of bus passengers injured fell by 6%. There were 737 accidents involving coaches, with 1 125 persons injured and 20 killed.

Source: Statistics Austria.