Driving in Switzerland, Laws and Regulations

Driving in Switzerland

Some Rules & 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 12 and measuring less than 150cm must be in an approved child seat (An exception applies until 31 December 2012 for seats equipped with a two-point safety belt.)
  • 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

Speed limits

  • 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

Road Signs

  • Motorway signs (autoroute/autobahn): green background  (be aware that in France, Austria and Germany the motorway signs are blue)
  • Other road direction signs: blue background 
  • Prohibition signs: red border and have a black symbol over white background
  • Obligation signs: narrow white border and a white symbol over blue background
  • Chaînes à neige obligatoires: means that snow chains must be put on the tyres. In winter, insurance companies will not accept responsibility for vehicles that do not have winter tyres

There are four languages in Switzerland so road signs and information change across the country.

Drink Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol in Switzerland: The blood/alcohol limit in Switzerland is 50 milligram’s of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (0.5 grams/litre). This has been in place since January 2005.

  • Drivers with an alcohol level between 0.5 g/l and 0.79 g/l will be charged with a fine and could be taken to jail.
  • If the level is higher than 0.8 g/l, in addition to the fine and the possibility of being arrested, the driver’s licence will be confiscated for at least three months.
  • If a passenger of a drunk driver has a driving licence, they are equally responsible

The police have the right to perform spot breathalyser tests.

Parking

There are strict fines – and a risk of towing – for drivers who break parking laws.

Parking options are:

  • Park & Ride: parking areas on the outskirts of a town centre with a bus, tram or ferry service to complete the journey
  • White Zones: free parking places for unlimited time
  • White Zones Pay & Display: on-street pay-parking with time limitations. A ticket bought at a street machine is displayed on the dashboard. The car licence plate number must be entered before paying for the ticket
  • Blue Zones: for drivers displaying a blue parking disc (available from police stations, tourist offices and banks). The dial on the blue disc must be set to the time on parking. This provides an amount, usually 90 minutes, of free parking.
    Blue zones are often free out of peak hours.
  • Red Zones: parking is free for up to 15 hours with a red parking disc (available from police stations, tourist offices and banks)
  • Parking meters: many streets have metered parking areas. In some, parking is free at night and over lunch

Note:

  • Yellow Zones: Parking forbidden

Click here for info on Vignettes

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