Driving in Switzerland

If you have ever watched Top Gear you will know that driving rules are very strict in Switzerland and are enforced with on the spot fines, so stick to the rules out there.  However contrary to popular belief the roads are no better than the rest of Europe – in fact some of the roads are downright terrible!

There are a few things to remember or know when you are driving in this country, with the first being the speed limits and the fact that you must wear a seatbelt at all times (which you should do anyway):

  • Built up areas = 50 kmph
  • Open areas = 80 kmph
  • Motorways = 120 kmph

This is a country (like most of the world and all of mainland Europe) where you drive on the right, so if you are renting a car it will be a left hand drive vehicle.  Please do be careful if driving your own vehicle however as it is pretty much impossible to cross the border and not drive on a motorway, which does require you purchasing a motorway driving sticker.  These can be purchased at the border, but please make sure you do as they do not prompt you to do so!

This sticker costs 40 Swiss francs and needs to be displayed in your windscreen, however if you have never been before – even after speaking to the people at the border – they may decide not to tell you that you need this…  This is where you find out why Switzerland is so well off!  Once you try to leave the country again they do make a point of telling you that you need such a sticker and make you buy one.  This is fine – it is the rules and you should have one, however rather than understanding that not everyone knows this and just charging you for that they also slap a 200 Swiss franc fine on you (which takes hours).

Other things which you need when driving there are your insurance certificate, country or origin sticker on the back of the vehicle, headlamp converts (if travelling at night and driving a UK vehicle) and a warning triangle.  One thing which may also speed things up should you get a fine (and they recon this is something you need no matter what for getting the motorway sticker) is you vehicle registration document.  In the UK this is not something you want getting stolen along with your vehicle as it contains the change of ownership form, so just take a photocopy of the front page.  We did manage to get around this by giving them the vehicle make & registration along with the chassis number (which can be found just inside you windscreen).

One of the reasons Switzerland is thought of as being strict is the use of radar detection systems.  You cannot have these in your vehicle and if your gps system has such a function (which most do these days – especially TomToms) this function has to be turned off.  They also have a fairly strict drink driving limit of just 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.

Markus

A lot of people enjoy going abroad without any real plans about what they will do whilst out there – however I am very much of the school of thought which says plan as much as you can and leave yourself some time for exploring (however make sure you always give yourself a chance to explore).

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