What's different when driving in Switzerland? The Swiss driving culture

What are the key things to bear in mind when taking to the road in Switzerland?

Every country has its idiosyncrasies when it comes to driving. Luckily, Swiss roads are generally safe, and driving culture is to follow the rules, not re-write them. 

Don't forget…

Since 2014 it is mandatory to drive with your lights on during the day and night. Most new cars now come with automatic lights. 

In Switzerland it is also necessary to always have your driver's license with you when driving, unlike in some other European countries. 

Good to know

  • Highways are indicated with green signs, and main roads by blue signs.
  • North American drivers should note the reversed colours for painted lines dividing lanes. White lines divide oncoming traffic with yellow lines on the outside of roads.
  • Renew your "vignette" sticker (the annual highway toll) by the end of January - the police do lots of checks in February and the fine is steep.
  • Take snow chains if you're heading for the hills and don't have a 4-wheel-drive!

Slow down!

  • There are a lot of speed cameras on highways, at junctions and at traffic lights. It's wise (and much cheaper) not to exceed the speed limit or gamble on the lights.
  • On highway stretches with lots of tunnels, the speed limit can change every few kilometers, so keep an eye on those road signs!
  • Exceeding the speed limit by as little as 20km/h on highways can lead to a temporary ban.

Drive safe

  • Don't drink: the permitted blood alcohol level is zero for new drivers and 0.5ppm for all other adults, which for most people means one beer.
  • From November through Spring we change to winter tyres, which grip better on snow and ice and perform better in lower temperatures. Most insurance companies regard this as compulsory.

Ticket fines

  • Minimum parking fines are 40 CHF.
  • Using a mobile phone while driving carries a CHF 100 fine.
  • Not wearing a seat belt carries a fine of CHF 120 and applies to all passengers.


Wishing you a safe trip!

Author: Markus Häfeli

Markus is an entrepreneur and owns two companies that specialise in catering to the needs of expats in Switzerland. Autociel (www.autociel.ch) caters to the car needs of expats in Switzerland and includes rental, leasing and sale of quality cars. The concept of his second company, MySwissInsurance (www.myswissinsurance.ch) includes a friendly and comprehensive service and tailored insurance solutions at competitive prices. The business offers solutions for both individuals and companies relocating to Switzerland. Markus has workied with expats for over 14 years. He enjoys contact with people from around the world and takes an avid interest in cars, health and fitness. He enjoys spending time with his son.

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