Two people in a six-ton camper van found themselves in such a position on Saturday afternoon when descending the Flüela pass in the canton of Graubünden.
The pair – a 56-year-old German and his 54-year-old companion – were driving on the mountain pass above the village of Susch when the brakes of their motorhome failed, Graubünden cantonal police said.
The vehicle crossed to the opposite side of the road and collided with the left-hand guardrail before travelling a further 200 metres down the road towards a bend.
But the driver then managed to halt the vehicle by deliberately steering it into the right-hand guardrail on the bend.
The camper van broke through the barrier and came to a stop by a retaining wall.
Both occupants were unharmed.
The driver steered the camper van into the barrier to stop it. Photo: Graubünden police
The driver's quick-thinking was praised by police, who told Blick: “The man acted absolutely correctly.”
“If brakes fail you should brake the vehicle with the handbrake. In an emergency you can also control it against the right-side guardrail or wall to make it slow down.”
According to police the motorhome's brake failure was caused by the brake fluid overheating.
The Flüela pass connects the villages of Davos and Susch and reaches an elevation of 2,383m. Like many passes, it is closed in winter.
All of Switzerland's mountain passes are currently open with no restrictions.