Driving in Switzerland
An introduction to driving a vehicle in Switzerland, an overview of the main road rules and regulations, and details on the safety items which you must always carry in a vehicle...
Below you will find information on the basic Rules and Regulations, Swiss Motorway Tax, Road Signs, Breakdown Assistance, Parking, Drink Driving and Useful Information about Swiss driving norms.
Some Rules and Regulations
- Drive on the right in Switzerland
- Third-party insurance is obligatory
- Seat belts are compulsory for all occupants
- All children up to the age of 8 must be in an approved child seat
- Children under 12 are not allowed to sit in the front seat without an appropriate child restraint
- Hazard lights may only be used to warn of danger
- No honking is allowed after dark
- Noise from car occupants that could disturb people is prohibited
- The minimum driving age is 18
- Mobile phones may only be used with a hands-free system
- Headlights must be used in tunnels
- Headlights should be on and dipped during daylight hours, especially on major routes
- Each car must carry a red warning triangle (reflective vests are not obligatory)
- All vehicle paperwork should be carried: driving licence, insurance details, exhaust emissions test certificate, car registration papers
- Drivers using spectacles or contact lenses must carry spare spectacles in the car
- Snow chains are obligatory in some winter conditions
- It is illegal to drive if the windscreen is partly or completely obscured by frost; it is illegal to let the car idle to aid clearing the windscreen
- Helmets are compulsory for driver and passenger on all scooters, motorbikes, quad bikes and trikes
- Radar detectors are illegal
Note: From 1 April 2010 approved child seats are compulsory for children up to the age of 12 and measuring less than 150cm. An exception applies until 31 December 2012 for seats equipped with a two-point safety belt. Seats must be conform to ECE Regulation R44.03 or R44.04.
- 120 km/h: motorways/highways (green sign)
- 100 km/h: dual carriageways or semi-autoroutes (green sign)
- 80 km/h: outside built-up areas (except on dual-carriageways and motorways)
- 50 km/h: within towns and villages
- 30km/h: in some residential areas
Priority/right of way
- Right of way: When driving in a city, town or village, the right of way at an intersection is automatically given to the vehicle on the right - priorité à droite - unless otherwise indicated by stop or yield/give way signs. This applies even in the case of a small side road entering a major main road. The vehicle travelling on the main road must give way to the vehicle entering on the right
- Trams, police vehicles, ambulances, fire engines and buses have the right of way over passenger cars
- At a traffic circle: (rond point, roundabout) the vehicle already on the circle has the right of way over vehicles joining from the right
- On hill roads: the car travelling uphill has priority over the one coming down
- Pedestrians have the right of way at black and yellow striped (zebra) crossings
- It is common for Swiss drivers to switch off their engines at traffic lights and railway crossings as well as in traffic jams to reduce pollution
- Traffic lights flashing amber outside peak rush hours mean "proceed with caution"
- A person carrying a driving licence without a photo should also carry some form of photo ID (passport)
- If a car is not registered in the driver's name the driver should carry a letter from the registered owner authorising the use
- There are towns in Switzerland which are inaccessible by road, for example the resorts of Zermatt, Braunwald, Murren and Wengen are only accessible by train or tram. Cars are parked at the bottom of the mountain and public transport is available in the resort
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