In which parts of Switzerland are you most likely to lose your driving licence –and why?

In which parts of Switzerland are you most likely to lose your driving licence –and why?
Most driving infractions are for speeding and alcohol. Photo by FLORENT VERGNES / AFP
It’s official: the French-speaking cantons have record rates of driving licence confiscations. How do the other regions fare?

According to the latest data released by the Federal Roads Office (OFROU), drivers in Neuchâtel top the chart when it comes to the number of licence confiscations, while the German-speaking cantons of Uri and Appenzell Innerrhoden have the lowest number of recorded driving offences.

Of the 122,000 holders of a driving licence in Neuchâtel, 2,150 were imposed a driving ban in 2018, the last year for which statistics are available. With 17.6 confiscations per 1,000 drivers, this represents the highest rate in Switzerland.

To explain the high number of confiscations in Neuchâtel, Philippe Burri, the director of the canton’s official automobile service told RTS television that “the geographic location of the canton leads to a higher number of kilometres traveled by its residents than in other cantons”. 

The mostly rural canton is located in the west of Switzerland between Neuchâtel lake and the French border.

What about the cantons with a high concentration of internationals?

Geneva, Zurich, and Basel fare better than Neuchâtel, with about 12.1 licence confiscations per 1,000 drivers, and in Zug that number is just over 11.

But Vaud had a whooping 16.2 confiscations per 1,000 motorists, which was enough to see the canton ranked second after Neuchâtel.

READ MORE: Driving in Switzerland after Brexit: Here’s what you need to know 

What are the main reasons for licence suspensions?

In some cantons, like Fribourg, St. Gallen, Vaud, Geneva, and, yes, Neuchâtel, excessive speed was behind the confiscations.

Speed limits are 120 km on Swiss motorways, 50 km in cities, and 30 km in school zones.

Fribourg drivers may have been in a rush because they cover the most distance —34.2 kilometres per day. But the same cannot be said of Genevans, whose motorised journeys are among the shortest in Switzerland.

The second main reason why drivers lose their licences is, not surprisingly, alcohol.

Motorists in Valais, one of the country’s largest wine producing cantons, were most often sanctioned for driving under the influence, exceeding the 0,5 percent blood alcohol limit for drivers in Switzerland, which is in line with most other European nations.

Drivers in Ticino and Jura are in second and third place, respectively.

Those in Basel and Schwyz, however, are the most diligent about driving sober.

Another recent study showed that Geneva holds the Swiss per-capita record for the number of alcohol-related car accidents, but Valais also placed high.

READ MORE: Why Switzerland’s roads are among the safest in the world


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