Switzerland : driving rules and customs

If you're heading abroad for your holidays, or just popping over for a shopping or business trip, driving in another country can be a great experience. But you need to make sure that you are familiar with local rules and regulations, and that you have everything you need.

Speed limits in km/h

motorcycles 50 80 100 120
cars 50 80 100 120
towing vehicles 50 80 80 80
vans over 3.5t 50 80 80 80
trucks over 7.5t 50 80 80 80
buses 50 80 100 100
   
   
 

Driving age

The minimum permitted age for driving a vehicle is 18 years; this increases to 21 years for rental cars.

   
   

Mobile phones

It is illegal to use a handheld mobile phone. The use of hands free equipment is permitted.
Speed cameras can identify motorists using a handheld device, so don't rist it.

   
   

Alcohol limit

The blood alcohol content limit is 0.5, reducing to 0.1 for new and professional drivers.
Any passenger who holds a driving license may also be liable.

   
   
 

Seat belts

All occupants must wear a seat belt if one is provided in the vehicle.

   
   
 

Child restraints

Any child aged below 12 years, or below 150cm in height must be in a suitable car or booster seat.
If you have three children in the back seat, then the child in the middle seat doesn't require a car or booster seat, as long as they can use a standard three-point seatbelt.

   
   

Headlights

The use of headlights is mandatory at all times.

   
   

Pedestrian crossings

Pedestrians have right of way when using an urban crossing point that isn't controlled by signals.
In residential areas where speeds are below 20 km/h, pedestrians have right of way at all times.

   
   

Winter weather

Winter tyres are not mandatory, but their use is recommended from October until Easter.
Snow chains are mandatory if signs or conditions dictate; fines are issued for non-compliance.

   
   

Roadside parking

Parking in larger urban areas is difficult to find - it is recommended that you use local park and ride services.
Pavement parking is forbidden.
Blue zones allow free parking for up to 90 minutes, but you'll need to display a parking disc in the windscreen.
Red zones allow up to 15 hours free parking, but again a disc is required.
Discs can be purchased from local supermarkets and tourist offices.

   
   

Trams and buses

You must give way to trams and buses unless signs and signals indicate otherwise.
This includes buses pulling away from bus stops.

   
   
Image result for swiss vignette

Motorway tolls

All motorists using Swiss motorways must purchase a vignette (toll sticker) before travel, which must be displayed in the top corner of the windscreen.
The vignette costs CHF 40 (just over £30) for a full year, but failure to display one may lead to a CHF 200 fine.
You can buy one at the border, or beforehand at the Swiss Vignette website.

 

Motorway breakdowns

If you should be unfortunate enough to suffer a breakdown or accident on the motorway, you'll need to use the nearest emergency telephone to alert the police.

Telephones are located every 2km, with frequent markers pointing towards the nearest one. Do not contact your breakdown company until you have contacted the police. If you cannot get to a telephone, call 112 from your mobile phone.

You'll also need to make sure everyone has exited the vehicle, standing behind the barrier. A warning triangle needs to be placed 30m behind your vehicle, and make sure the hazard lights are turned on.

 

Motorway ameneties

Rest areas, providing parking, toilets, picnic tables, and sometimes a cafe, can be found every 20 to 30km.
Larger service areas are usually located 40 to 50km apart, and provide fuel, restaurants and gift shops,

Signage provided before you reach the services will advise of what is available on-site, and the distance to the next amenety offering the same facilities. Here's what the symbols mean:

Public telephone Picnic area Toilets

Disabled facilities

Petrol station

Petrol station
also providing LPG

Petrol station
also providing CNG

Electric vehicle
charging point

Hotel

Restaurant

     

Cafeteria

Viewpoint