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EXPLAINED: What changes on Switzerland's roads in 2021?

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EXPLAINED: What changes on Switzerland's roads in 2021?
A 'rescue corridor' must be created for emergency vehicles, like for this police car. Photo by AFP

From priority access for emergency vehicles to the merging system on motorways, this is what you should know about new Swiss law.


Starting on the first day of 2021, Swiss motorists, cyclists and pedestrians will have to follow several new rules. Here's what you need to know. 

Emergency lanes

To make it easier for emergency vehicles to pass with their lights on, motorists will have to create  ‘rescue corridors’ in the middle of the lanes and avoid encroaching on them.

In tunnels, drivers should get as close as possible to the curb.

On a three-lane freeway, vehicles in the middle and on the right will have to move to the right and those in the left lane will have to stay on the left; this will free up enough space for emergency vehicles to pass.

It is important to turn on the hazard lights as soon as possible, alerting other drivers to the emergency.

These measures will reduce the time it takes for emergency services to respond.


The ‘zipper principle’

Zipping — which keeps traffic flowing by bringing order and organisation to the merging process — should be applied as soon as a lane on the freeway is closed. Drivers use both lanes to the point of closure, then alternate, zipper-like, into the open lane

This will make traffic flow more smoothly and prevent delays caused by changing lanes too early.

Overtaking on the right

In the event of traffic jams, delays or accidents, motorists will be allowed to overtake on the right vehicles travelling in the left lane. However, under normal circumstances overtaking from the right remains prohibited.


READ MORE: When are the public holidays in Switzerland in 2021?

Speed for trailers

The maximum authorised speed for towing a trailer or caravan up to 3.5 tonnes will increase from 80 to 100 km/h. Suitable tires must be fitted that allow travel at this speed.

Alcoholic beverages 

Alcohol will again be allowed to be sold and served in motorway rest areas.

Urban mobility

At a red traffic light, bicycles and mopeds will be allowed to turn right under certain conditions and only if indicated. 

Children up to 12 years of age may ride their bicycles on the right-hand side of sidewalks if there are no cycle paths or zones along the route. However, they will have to give way to pedestrians.


If using a ‘parking assist’ option, drivers can take their hands off the wheel or leave the vehicle if the system allows it. Either way, they will have to be ready to intervene at any time so that they can control their vehicle if needed. 

Also from January 1st, fast electric bicycles (45 km/h), motorcycles and mopeds will be subject to paid parking.

New signage for the use of parking discs

At the request of the police authorities, new reminder on the use of the parking disc signs for blue spaces will be introduced, with the intention of dispelling doubts in areas marked in white.

Learning to drive a car from the age of 17

On January 1, 2021, several changes to the system for obtaining a driver’s license will go into effect. The learner’s permit for passenger cars (category B and BE) can be obtained as early as 17 years of age. New drivers will be able to take the test when they turn 18, provided they have already completed one year of accompanied driving.

Only drivers who are 20 years old at the time of the test will be allowed to take the test as a learner driver, after less than 12 months of driving.

Those born between 2001 and 2003, who will have obtained their learner driver permit by December 31, 2021, will be exempt from this one-year learning period. Learner driver permits issued before January 1st, 2021 will remain subject to the current laws. 

Car sticker

Also remember that the new 2021 highway sticker is required on all vehicles from January 1st.

Failure to display it on the front windshield could cost you a 200-franc fine.

It can be purchased for 40 francs at service stations, garages, and post offices.





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