The basic rules: right-side driving, motorway vignette and speed
They key traffic regulations are listed below. Pay particular attention to your speed. Fines are impressive.
- You need to drive on the right lane.
- You need to have a motorway vignette on your car.
- Maximum speeds: motorways 120 km/h, highways 100 km/h, other roads outside built-up areas 80 km/h, towns 50 km/h. Cars with a trailer may not exceed 100 km/h on any road. Exceptions may apply at any time.
- Driving on mountain roads requires specific knowledge and skills.
Traffic fines in Switzerland are generally heavy. For example, driving 61 km/h instead of 50 km/h in a town costs CHF 250. You'd best stick to the rules and avoid fines.
Safety rules: seat belts, alcohol and hands-free calling
Stick to the below safety regulations in Switzerland:
- Seat belts are obligatory for all passengers. Children under 12 years old need a special seat if they're under 150 cm tall. The seats must be appropriate for the child's age and weight, and carry an official ECE security label.
- Driving is not allowed from a blood alcohol level of 0.25 mg/l. An absolute alcohol prohibition applies to professional drivers and new drivers. It is highly recommended to not drink at all when you plan to drive.
- Hands-free calling is allowed, but it is strongly advised against. Handheld calling will be heavily fined.
Priority rules in Switzerland
This is how priority rules in Switzerland work:
- Traffic from the right (including cyclists) has priority.
- Traffic on rotary intersections has priority, unless the signs indicate otherwise.
- Police cars, ambulances and fire trucks always have priority. This goes for trams as well.
- You're required to stop for pedestrians who want to use a zebra crossing. Swiss drivers don't take this rule lightly and do indeed stop even if pedestrians are only approaching a crossing. As a tourist you are expected to do the same, and pedestrians expect to get right of way. Trams don't need to stop for pedestrians.
How to use car lights
This is how to use your car lights in Switzerland:
- Use your headlights in daytime: this is obligatory in Switzerland.
- Switch to dipped headlights in rain, snow, fog, dark, tunnels and other low-visibility situations.
- Only use full beam if there’s no oncoming traffic. Switch back to (dipped) headlights as soon as you spot oncoming traffic.
What to take along in your car
These items should be in your car:
- A warning triangle in each car is obligatory.
- A first aid kit, a fire extinguisher and safety vests are recommended.
- You don't have to possess a parking disc, but we do recommend to have one.
- A spare wheel is not required, but it can be handy if you're able to replace a wheel yourself.
Requirements for winter driving in Switzerland
Winter driving in Switzerland requires additional preparation. Find rules and tips here.
Miscellaneous traffic rules
These are more Swiss traffic regulations to take into account:
- If a driving lane is closed, you have to allow drivers from this closed lane to merge into your lane.
- In case of accidents, quick access for emergency services is required. In slow traffic, drivers have to create a so-called "Rettungsgasse". This means that one row of cars is being formed on the very left side of the road and or more rows on the right side, thus creating an improvised lane in between. You can be fined if you don't make enough space for emergency services.
- You're advised to turn off the engine when you need to wait for traffic lights, railroad crossings, etc. Sometimes this is obligatory.