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Previously I wrote about driving in Geneva and Switzerland for Newcomers. Though an “old-timer” might be interested in that blog to learn a bit about the price of speeding tickets and rules of right-of-way. This blog goes a little more in depth about several rules and recommendations you might not be aware of.

Winter Tires

Rumor has it that it’s the law to use winter tires, or pneus d’hiver, if there is snow on the road. It is not true. However, it is true that if you are not using winter tires and have an accident because you could not control your car; your automobile insurance has the right to reduce or refuse any benefits related to the accident. Furthermore, be aware that during the big snow storms automobiles have been refused entry to Geneva from France if the car is not equipped with winter tires.

Passing in a no-passing zone

First I should point out that if you see this sign:

No passing zone

you are in a no-passing zone even if you see the dotted lines down the middle of the road. However, there is one exception: you are allowed to pass a vehicles, such as agricultural equipment, labeled with the 30 km/h sign.

Drinking and Driving

Swiss maximum blood alcohol content is 0.5%. For provisional drivers it is 0.1%.

Everyone knows the dangers but many people still drink and drive. The penalty in Switzerland is the loss of one’s driver’s license for several months, possibly a night in jail, the loss of or a huge premium increase to one’s automobile insurance and the possibility of imprisonment.

Pay attention to the science when you drink. The only factors that affect the metabolism of alcohol in your system are gender, weight and time. The TCS (Swiss Touring Company) has a chart here .

Texting and Calling

Texting, reading texts and calling without using hands-free is illegal. You can receive a CHF100 ticket, your insurance can be affected and in severe cases you can be jailed.

Tunnel Safety

We always hear about automobiles catch fire in tunnels. In fact, long ago before living in Switzerland I entered a Swiss tunnel where a car was on fire. It was terrifying. The Swiss driver’s test tells learners to turn on the radio to the channel posted on the outside of the tunnel before entering. I am not sure how well this works when you are driving 100km. So quite honestly, I don’t know what to say except to repeat the Swiss Touring Company (TCS) recommendations: drive the speed limit, be ready to pull over to the far right of the tunnel, turn your car off, leave your keys in the car and find the nearest exit. Never back out of a tunnel nor turn around.

If your car is on fire, try to drive it outside the tunnel!

Do you know any unusual or important Swiss road rules that I haven’t covered in the last two blogs? Add them to the comments. In January I will be posting the process of earning your driver’s license in Switzerland.

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland.  If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at  http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/ 

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