General information on driving and traffic rules in Switzerland
The basic principles of traffic regulations in Switzerland are similar to those in many European countries. However, the driving style is rather defensive. Of course, this only refers to the average, traffic hooligans also exist here, but less often. The speed rules are observed very strictly, after all, the density of speed cameras is very high. Due to this circumstance it happens, especially on the motorways, that overtaking manoeuvres take longer and sometimes people like to stay in the left lane instead of coming back into the right one. In addition to this, there are a few things that are different in Swiss road traffic or have to be considered. In my opinion the most important ones are listed below.
A toll sticker is required for vehicles up to 3.5 t to use the motorway. Vehicles over 3.5 t are subject to the performance-related heavy vehicle fee. The vignette must be attached in a clearly visible position on the inside of the windscreen outside the tinted strip. Trailers and caravans require an additional vignette. In the case of trailers or motorcycles, the sticker must be attached to a non-removable, easily accessible part. Vignettes can be purchased at any petrol station in Switzerland, at the post office and at the last petrol station before the border. The fee is 40 Swiss francs and is only valid for the current year and for the month before and after. For example, the vignette 2019 is valid from 01 December 2018 to 31 January 2020, and the penalty for missing the vignette is 200 Swiss francs.
Since 01 January 2014 it is obligatory to drive with lights on during the day. Anyone who has daytime running lights can switch them on, all others must drive with dipped headlights. An offence will be punished with an administrative fine of 40 Swiss francs.
According to road traffic regulations, the nationality of a vehicle must be unmistakably recognizable. In the case of European number plates, this is already achieved with the country abbreviation. Unfortunately, the national coat of arms on the Swiss licence plate does not fulfil this requirement. For this reason, Swiss vehicles travelling abroad must be equipped with a CH sticker or magnetic CH plate at the rear. The minimum dimensions for the elliptical plate are 11.5 x 17.5 cm. Smaller versions are not permitted and are particularly popular in Italy. It must be mounted horizontally at a height between 20 cm and 150 cm.
The parking spaces are all marked. There are almost no free parking spaces, even in the most impossible places you can often find parking machines. Yellow zones are private or reserved for companies and may only be used by them and their customers or guests. White zones are subject to charges. These are often numbered and there is a parking machine nearby. Yellow markings with crosses mean no parking and yellow lines at the side of the road mean no stopping. Parking on main roads is prohibited outside built-up areas. Parking in the blue zones is a bit more complicated, but you will get used to it. Monday to Saturday from 8:00 to 18:00 you can park here for one hour free of charge with the blue parking disc (also EU parking disc). Whereby the arrival time is set to the next half hour. On Sundays and public holidays parking is free between 19:00 in the evening and 7:00 in the morning. Those who now believe to save the own parking place and simply park in the accommodation are wrong. Regular overnight parking in the Blue Zone is not allowed in most places and is controlled. These communities then offer parking cards for designated zones. With this parking card it is then possible to park in the neighbourhood for an unlimited period of time. The price is about 50 Swiss francs.
Obligation to carry
Always carry a first aid kit and warning triangle in your car. There is no obligation for warning vests. For vehicles registered in Switzerland, the vehicle registration document and the emissions test certificate must also be carried and presented if required.
Priority on mountain passes
On narrow mountain roads, if necessary, the person driving downhill must stop so that the person driving uphill can pass without obstruction. Postautos always have priority on narrow mountain roads. These are announced by a horn before the bend. Postautos are called the yellow intercity buses in Switzerland.
Right of way and traffic circle
Rail vehicles always have priority at right-to-left crossings. If not otherwise signposted, traffic in roundabouts has right of way. The roundabout seems to be very popular in Switzerland, not only because you come across it very often, it is often very lovingly decorated or planted and is called a "Kreisel".
The speed limit, unless otherwise specified, is 50 km/h within built-up areas, 80 km/h outside built-up areas and 120 km/h on the motorway.
Speeding and gross traffic violations
A speeding offender is defined as a person who exceeds 40 km/h in a speed 30 zone, 50 km/h in urban areas, 60 km/h outside urban areas and 80 km/h on motorways. Since 01 January 2013, speeding and dangerous overtaking have been punished particularly severely. The penalty can be up to 4 years and the driving licence will be withdrawn for at least 2 years. In case of repetition, the driving licence can be withdrawn forever. A new licence can only be acquired in exceptional cases after at least 10 years. In case of particularly gross speeding and endangering the road traffic, the vehicle may be confiscated.
Radar warning system
The use of navigation devices with radar warning systems is prohibited and may be confiscated.
Winter tyres and snow chains
In Switzerland there is no official requirement for the use of winter tyres. However, it is strongly recommended to use them for winter in flat tyres. If an accident happens and this is due to the use of the wrong tyres, the insurance company may reduce or even cancel benefits. There is also the threat of a fine from the police. The minimum tread depth is 4mm in winter.
In mountainous regions, it may happen that some roads are subject to obligatory snow chains. In the case of continuous snow, these roads may only be used with snow chains in place and must be removed again once the obligation to use snow chains has been lifted.
There are two automobile clubs in Switzerland. The TCS - Touring Club Switzerland is the most common one. Its structure is most comparable with the ADAC in Germany and the ÖAMTC in Austria.
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