VIENNA (Reuters) - Drivers in Austria guilty of extreme speeding will have their cars seized and auctioned off, the government said on Monday, seeking to deter "boy racers" by threatening to take away their prize possession.
The planned change in legislation announced by the governing coalition of conservatives and Greens is aimed at toughening Austria's rules to bring them closer to those in other countries like neighbouring Germany and Switzerland.
Local authorities say they are trying to bring illegal street races and other cases of extreme speeding under control. While most drivers will never have noticed any, they do cause deaths, sometimes involving innocent bystanders.
"At the speeds we are talking about here no one is fully in control of their vehicle. The car becomes an uncontrollable weapon and a danger to completely innocent people," Transport Minister Leonore Gewessler of the Greens told a news conference outlining the plan.
Specifically, anyone caught driving 60 km per hour (37 miles per hour) above the speed limit in towns, where the speed limit is usually up to 50 kph, or 70 kph above the limit elsewhere, where the limit is up to 130 kph, will have their car seized for up to two weeks, according to the government's plan.
If they are a repeat offender or they are a first offender going particularly fast, more than 80 kph above the limit in a town or more than 90 kph above it elsewhere, their car will be confiscated for good and usually auctioned off, Gewessler said.
The latest plan is in addition to measures introduced last year that increased how long drivers lose their licenses for in cases of speeding and extreme speeding.
"He who has no car anymore cannot speed anymore. That is precisely why this measure is so successful in other countries - because it hits where it hurts and protects the general population," Gewessler said, adding that while the measures were tough they were necessary.
(Reporting by Francois Murphy)