If you're an experienced driver, but you passed your driving test a long time ago and aren't quite as familiar with the old and new rules of the road as you used to be, our blog is sure to answer many of your questions about driving in Switzerland.
Accident statements, warning triangles, car parades, leaving space for emergency services, and overtaking on the right: Cyril Senn, traffic law expert at AXA-ARAG, is on hand to refresh your knowledge and tell you what you need to do to avoid getting fined.
The shoulder, also known as the emergency lane, is for emergency use only. If there's no emergency, you're only allowed to stop at signposted parking lots and rest areas.
In Switzerland, you must always have your original driver's license and registration document in the vehicle with you, otherwise you risk a CHF 20 fine.
Parades, for example after a soccer match or a wedding, aren't banned as such, but they can lead to various charges:
Your warning triangle must be in the vehicle at all times and must be within easy reach.
The arrow on the parking disc must point to the next half-hour marker after the time you actually parked. In a car, the disc must be placed behind the windscreen in a position where it's easily visible. For other vehicles, it must simply be placed where it can easily be seen.
You aren't allowed to perform any task that distracts you from driving. You are allowed to hold your phone in your hand, but you're committing a violation as soon as you start looking at it or texting. You could end up with a fine or even have your license taken away. As a general rule, you should keep your phone out of reach while driving.
In short, you're allowed to use the right-hand lane to drive past other vehicles, but not to overtake them. Since the start of 2021, you're allowed to pass on the right if there's slow-moving traffic, a traffic jam or an accident in the left-hand or center lane. This is intended to keep the traffic flowing as much as possible. Overtaking on the right, i.e. moving into the right-hand lane to pass and then moving back to the left, is still illegal. If you're caught breaking this rule, you can expect to be fined CHF 250.
In slow-moving traffic or a traffic jam, drivers must leave space for the emergency services in case they need to reach the site of an accident. This means creating a gap between the left-hand and right-hand lanes on a two-lane highway or between the left-hand and center lanes on a three-lane highway. You must never use the shoulder for this purpose. You can be fined if you fail to leave space.
Animals are regarded as cargo and must be secured accordingly. A dog might suddenly jump up onto its owner's lap, and that can be dangerous. Dogs should therefore travel in a dog box or be secured using a special safety belt.
If a tuned vehicle has a part that does not comply with legal provisions, then the keeper and driver are at risk of a fine of CHF 200 to 400. What’s more annoying than the fine is that the criminal authorities can confiscate the vehicle as evidence if there is the suspicion that the vehicle is not in a condition that is in accordance with the law. If you create an unnecessary amount of noise with your tuned car then you must also expect a fine.
No, you must always turn on your headlights on low beam in a tunnel.
As of January 2021, the zipper principle is mandatory wherever two lanes merge into one on the highway. This means that each vehicle traveling in the free lane has to leave room for one vehicle traveling in the blocked lane to merge. This new rule is intended to prevent traffic from merging into the free lane too soon, which can cause a traffic jam. You can be fined for failing to observe the zipper principle.
Failing to wear a safety belt can result in a CHF 60 fine. Be warned: your insurer might reduce the amount it pays out if you have an accident while not wearing a safety belt.
You're not allowed to drive with spikes on highways and expressways. Otherwise, spikes are only permitted on motor vehicles with a gross weight of up to 7.5 tons, motorcycles, lightweight and small cars, three-wheeled vehicles, and trailers attached to them, and they can only be used in snow and ice between November 1 and April 30.
The property owner is entitled to charge the owner of the vehicle for the cost of towing it. Towing firms normally take care of this themselves. The tow charge is often a sore point. You should pay the bill if you want to avoid facing debt collection proceedings.
Yes, people visiting residents are allowed access as well.
No, radar detectors are banned in Switzerland. You can be fined for using one.
Pedestrians are not obligated to indicate that they want to cross the road, but they are supposed to take care when doing so and not just step out unexpectedly. They have the right of way at a pedestrian crossing, except when a car is so close that it can't possibly stop in time.
Drivers have to take special care when approaching a pedestrian crossing.
If a bus driver wants to pull out of a stop in a built-up area and uses the indicator, all vehicles coming up behind must slow down or stop to let the bus out.
The person accompanying a learner must be at least 23 years old and must have held a category B driver's license for a least three years and completed the probation period. Both the learner and the accompanying person must refrain from drinking alcohol before the lesson. The accompanying person must be able to reach the handbrake easily at all times.
You need to be particularly careful these days where the handbrake's concerned because conventional handbrakes are increasingly being replaced by electric parking brakes operated by a button or switch. Before accompanying someone on a driving lesson, you should always check that you can easily reach this button or switch. It isn't always on the center console. Some manufacturers put it somewhere else to save space. If you can't reach it, for example because it's to the left of the steering wheel, you're breaking the law.
Yes. Outside of built-up areas, slow-moving motor vehicles have to make it easy for faster ones to pass and should pull over to the side of the road where possible.
In principle, the injured party must prove that the other party was at fault following an accident that involved property damage. If the accident statement is too vague or the other party changes his or her opinion later on, the liability insurer will reject the claim due to lack of evidence. This means that you'll have to pay for the repairs out of your own pocket or claim on your accidental damage insurance, which is especially frustrating when it's clear who was at fault.
First of all, everyone involved must stop immediately and ensure that oncoming traffic is diverted around the accident site. If someone has been injured, first aid must be administered – and someone has to call the police. Those involved must wait for permission from the police before leaving the accident site.
If the accident has merely caused damage to property, the police don't necessarily have to come. As long as the damage concerns two motor vehicles, the drivers can reach an agreement between themselves. We recommend asking for an admission of responsibility in writing to avoid any insurance problems later on.
You must contact the owner of the damaged car immediately and provide him or her with your name and address. If you can't reach the owner, you have to call the police.
No. If you can't reach the owner of the damaged car, you have to call the police.
Failing to report an accident to the police is against the law. You'll get a ticket if you flee the scene of an accident that resulted in property damage. Fleeing the scene when someone has been injured counts as a hit and run and can lead to a larger fine, a criminal record, and losing your license for at least three months.
It's important to remember that hitting a wild animal also counts as an accident resulting in property damage, so it must be reported to the police immediately.
If the police do not attend the accident site, follow these recommendations to avoid any problems after an accident involving property damage: