The Telegraph, London, 8/11/2003: Druids have been brought in to reduce the number of accidents on Austria's worst stretch of autobahn.
The Druids have put up huge roadside monoliths to restore the natural flow of "earth energy". After the one-tonne pillars of white quartz were erected beside a notorious stretch of road during a secret two-year trial, the number of fatal accidents fell from an average of six a year to zero.
Gerald Knobloch, who describes himself as an archdruid, used a divining rod to inspect the 275-metre stretch of the A9 in Styria and restore "earth energy lines".
"I located dangerous elements that had disrupted the energy flow," he said. "The worst was a river which human interference had forced to flow against its natural direction. By erecting two stones of quartz at the side of the road the energy lines were restored."
The pillars had a similar function to acupuncture, he said. "Acupuncture needles also restore broken energy lines. What acupuncture does for the body, the stones do for the environment."
Harald Dirnbacher, an engineer from the motorway authority, admitted that they turned to Mr. Knobloch as a last resort.
"We had put up signs to reduce speed, renewed the road surface and made bends more secure but we still kept getting accidents," he said. "At that point we couldn't think of anything else to do and decided we might as well try anything.
"I admit when we first looked at it [energy lines] we were doubtful. We didn't want people to know in case they laughed at us, so we kept the trial secret and small-scale. But it was really an amazing turnaround."
Scientists are sceptical of the claims. "Natural sciences need evidence. Whatever can't be measured, does not exist," said Georg Walach, a geophysics professor at Leoben University in southern Austria. "These energy lines and their flow cannot be grasped or measured, and their existence is therefore rejected by scientists." But the motorway authorities are extending the Druids' role across the country, paying them about $A6300 for each investigation - a fraction of the cost of resurfacing a road.