DRIVING IN SWITZERLAND
Driving conditions in Switzerland are generally excellent, with a good network of local roads and motorways. However, there are some things that you need to know about before you set off. The police can be quite strict about enforcing rules and so it's best to be prepared. We've set out below some of the regulations that you need to remember.
If you're driving on motorways in Switzerland then you have to been in possession of a "vignette". They last for 12 months (there are no other options). You can buy them either at the border, petrol stations and newsagents near the border or in advance from the Swiss Travel Centre (CLICK HERE TO BUY). The vignette is valid between 1st December of the previous year and 31st January of the following year (printed on the vignette) and cost CHF40 (about £29.00).
1. As of 1 Jan 14 all cars must have their headlights on at all times, even in summer. Remember to turn them in when you cross the border as you could incur a CHF40 fine and your insurance my be invalidated.
2. If you're to used to driving in wintry conditions then driving in Switzerland during the winter months could be more challenging than you're used to. However, most of the roads are kept open with snow ploughs and salt and if you use snow tyres and have chains ( blue and white signs indicate when these are obligatory) then you should be fine.
There isn't actually a law in Switzerland which requires that drivers have snow tires on their cars. But, and this is the thing, cars need to be equipped so that they are safe in the road conditions of any given time, which obviously includes being safe to drive in snow.
If a car does not have winter tyres and is driven on ice or snow the driver can be fined or even have his license confiscated because of the potential to cause danger.
It's even possible that foreign drivers can be barred from driving in Switzerland. And if a car that is not properly equipped is considered to be at fault in an accident, insurance companies can refuse to pay the driver's claim and will pass on any other related costs.
If the local Police post a blue and white sign showing chains then any car taking that road must have its chains on. Only 4-wheel drive vehicles going uphill are exempted.
3.Drivers and any passengers who leave the car on a road in case of an acccident or a breakdown are required to wear "safety" fluorescent jackets. You must also have a red warning triangle, which you must put up on the side of the road 50m behind your car.
4. From 1 January 2014 the blood alcohol regulation will be even stricter. Drivers have just 0,5 % to play with. The Police can stop anyone at anytime to give them an alcohol test without any other reason being given. So just don't drink and drive.
5. Swiss laws are strictly enforced. and fines are very expensive. They love their rules, so don't mess with them. Exceeding the speed limit is strictly prosecuted with a scale of fines that increase according to the speed and also with the possibility of immediate withdrawal of a license. There is, allowance in treatment just because you're a tourist.
If you're driving a rental car you should be aware that any fine will go to the rental company which will then not only pass this on to the renter but also add a hefty administration charge of their own.