Driving in the Swiss Alps is never a mindless, cruise-control experience. You`ll need to remind yourself that while operating a motor vehicle, turning around to look behind at the incredible scenery you just passed might not be the smartest idea. Besides, the scenery will be equally magnificent up ahead.
In all seriousness, a higher degree of concentration is required to safely drive in Switzerland—especially if there`s 60cm of fresh snow dumped overnight.
Swiss driving: don`t get flashed
Swiss motorways are heavily regulated with hidden radars and unlike some countries in the European Union, Swiss speed cameras aren`t always indicated or marked clearly.
If Swiss radars are announced, the small signs are usually impossible to spot until you`ve already been flashed by the infrared sensor.
Radars are often located inside tunnels making it even more difficult to concentrate on the road and spot hidden radar cameras at the same time.
Surface-street traffic lights are also notorious for catching speeders. Running red lights in Switzerland is a guaranteed multi-hundred Swiss Franc fine.
Traffic fines are generally steeper than the couloirs you`ll drop into at Central Swiss ski areas and can easily ruin your mood.
We recommend saving your money for ski passes, apres ski beers and chocolate.
Roadways slicing through the Swiss alps (including motorways) are engineered with countless twists, turns and tunnels demanding extra caution. You`ll often be required to drop speed from 120km to 80km in a hurry, especially when entering tunnels so stay alert.
The winter weather alone should keep you on the defensive, but a lot of people unaccustomed to driving in snowy alpine environments forget that no matter how good your tires are, ice doesn`t care.
“Take it easy, Slow down“
You`ll see alot of Swiss vehicles with the above safety awareness campaign slogan on their rear bumpers. It`s a smart message.
We recommend doing as the majority of Swiss drivers and relax a bit on the lead-foot tendencies. Keep your speed to the posted limits which are normally:
- 100-120km on Swiss motorways
- 60-80kmh in tunnels & Swiss country roads
- 30-60kmh in swiss towns & cities
Walkers, hikers, bikers, runners, skaters (and hangliders) are everywhere
Once you exit the motorway and enter the ski towns or lovely rural villages of the Central Swiss Alps, you`ll realize that the alpine lifestyle breeds healthy, active people all year-round.
Be very conscious of bikers, hikers, skaters, baby strollers, dog walkers and all sorts of other sportive & leisure activities going on in all directions. It`s easy to get distracted with parapenters circling overhead, but what about that person walking their dog across the street right in front of you!? We live here and it`s hard to keep our eyes on the road sometimes…we understand.
But, pedestrians have the right-of-way at all crosswalks in Switzerland, so keep your eyes open for people ambling out into your path.
They`ll expect you to stop (and the law says you have to), so to avoid roughly slamming on your breaks or worse, take your time and control your need for speed until you get on the slopes.