|Swiss highway code|
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The highway code manual can be purchased for 12 Swiss francs from the Automobile Service in each canton, as well as from customs offices. It is available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
Here are a few important things you need to know about driving in Switzerland:
Seat belts are mandatory, including for rear-seat passengers.
The speed limits are as follows:
- Highways: 120 km/h (75 mph)
- Roads outside of cities: 80 km/h (50 mph)
- In cities: 50 or 60 km/h (31 or 37 mph)
- Residential areas: 30 km/h (18 mph)
Pedestrians wishing to cross the road at a crosswalk have the right of way.
It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving, unless you have a hands-free unit.
The alcohol limit while driving is set at 0.05%. However, if the police ask you to take a breathalyzer test and it reveals that your level of alcohol exceeds 0.05%, you will not be allowed to continue driving until you drop below 0.05%.
If you have an accident or breakdown, place the triangular warning sign in front of your car (50 meters in front on a secondary road and 150 meters on a highway).
Many accidents occur because people do not adhere to the rule of "yield to the right". When you are not sure who has the right of way (e.g. at an intersection), yield to the vehicles coming from your right.
As regards roundabouts, vehicles inside the circle have the right of way, and not those entering.
The majority of Swiss drivers drive too close to the vehicle in front of them,
particularly on the highway. This is the cause of frequent pile-ups, especially
when there is rain or fog. Don't forget that according to the law, you must
be able to stop within sight distance. At 120 km/h (highway speed limit), you
need approximately 140 meters to come to a complete stop. So think to keep a
reasonable distance from the car ahead, even if all the other drivers seem to
be tailgating you.
When two vehicles meet on a narrow mountain road, the ascending vehicle has the right of way and the descending one should make room for it to pass by.
Different types of parking
Parking your car in Switzerland can be problematic if you're in a hurry to find a spot in a big city (especially on Sundays). In most cities, there are nevertheless a lot of parking spaces, but they always seem taken.
The best solution is to look for a car park (often underground): you can almost
always find one in a main square. In major centers like Geneva, there are signs
indicating these car parks, often giving the number of available spaces. Of
course, prices are not cheap: 24 hours downtown can cost over 30 Swiss francs.
When you enter the car park, a dispensing machine automatically gives you a
ticket. You will have to pay for the parking before leaving the car park. Sometimes
you can pay at a booth, but more often than not there is a machine that accepts
bills and coins. But be careful! You can't pay at the exit! So try to remember
before getting into your car.
There are more and more small car parks with limited space (along the road or
in a small lot). These car parks are equipped with a new automatic system. You
need to buy a ticket and place it on the dash behind your windshield (or keep
it with you). You pay in advance, estimating when you will return to your vehicle.
The cost is more or less the same as for the large underground car parks
These parking options aside, there are four types of places to park:
- White zones (indicated by
white lines on the ground) are the most sought-after places but they are
usually no longer free. You need to look at the signpost next to the zone to
see how long you can park there.
- Blue zones (indicated by
blue lines on the side of the road) require you to place a parking disk on the
dash behind your windshield. These blue disks are available in various places,
such as the police station, hotels, tourist offices, news stands, etc... Only
the so called 'European Blue Disk' is not valid in Switzerland. In
principle, the blue disk is valid Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 7
pm. Parking time is limited to an hour and a half. After 7 pm, you can
normally leave your
car until the following morning, if you can find a spot.
- Red zones (indicated by
red lines on the side of the road) require you to use a red disk, which is on
the flip-side of the blue parking disk. Parking time is limited to a maximum of 15 hours. These
zones are on the verge of extinction and in Lausanne for instance there is
already not one left.
- Parking meters limit time
anywhere from 15 minutes to 4 hours. Parking meters are in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week and are normally not used on Sundays.
Please check the relevant signs where you park -
we decline any responsibility for fines if you break a local parking rule or
fail to pay where it was required.
If you go over the authorized time limit and the police do a check, you land
a fine of 40 Swiss francs.