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Not so fast: Austrian government can now confiscate your car and sell it if you drive 60 km/h over the speed limit

Vienna, Austria — The Austrian government is cracking down on “super speeders” on its roads in an effort to boost safety by outlining a new law that allows the government to confiscate — and even sell — the vehicles of those who drive 60 km/h or more over the speed limit.

Austria has seen a recent uptick in road deaths. Austria’s director general of transportation, Vera Hofbauer, originally told Bloomberg News that the new law hasn’t been on the books for long enough to measure its impact, but it’s already being felt. Just hours after the law went into effect, the government confiscated the car of a super speeder, she said.

Austria experienced 4.1 road deaths for every 100,000 people in 2022. Hofbauer argued that “drastic measures” must be taken to stop drivers who “are using their car like a weapon.”

Austrian officials aren’t alone in cracking down on dangerous driving. A slew of European countries have implemented the world’s strictest road safety regulations. In several countries, speeding tickets are calculated based on the driver’s income, so the wealthier the driver is, the steeper the fine.

Notably, in Switzerland, speeding tickets have been calculated based on both income and wealth, when voters decided to crack down on wealthy speeders in 2007. One driver was fined more than $1 million in 2010 for driving his Mercedes sports car about 290 km/h in a 120 km/h zone.

Last year in Finland, a multimillionaire was slapped with a €121,000 ticket — about $130,000 — for going about 29 miles per hour above the speed limit in a 50 km/h zone.

The European Union is also cracking down on this issue. In 2022, the European Commission mandated that beginning in 2024, all new cars must have technology that alerts drivers when they exceed the speed limit. The measure is predicted to cut road deaths by 20 percent.

The laws seem to be working: countries that have imposed the strictest road rules also have the safest roads. Switzerland has about 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 people each year — among the lowest in the world — and its fatalities have fallen faster than the European average over the last decade. By comparison, the United States road death rate was 12.8 per 100,000 in 2022.

“Sometimes you have to try measures which sound strange at first, and which create new legal questions that you must answer,” Hofbauer told Bloomberg. “But I think we should try everything we can to reduce crashes.”

While no such law exists in Canada, Austria’s solution is perhaps one way to crack down on those who choose the need for speed over driving safety.

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