The three important rules for driving on Switzerland’s snowy roads

The three important rules for driving on Switzerland's snowy roads
Switzerland wants you to use environmentally friendly products to de-ice the car. Photo by AFP
Winter driving in Switzerland can be hazardous if your vehicle is not properly equipped. Here is what you should know before you drive in snowy weather.

This information comes from Touring Club Suisse (TCS), the largest motoring organisation in Switzerland. 

There is no legal obligation to outfit your car with winter tires

This is a contradiction of sorts because while the law doesn’t require winter tires, it states that the driver must be able to maintain control of the vehicle at all times and in all circumstances, and the car must be adapted to the weather conditions.

If you choose not to put on winter tires and get into an accident, your insurance could reduce your compensation. And in the event that the accident was your fault, the insurance company can claim against you for negligence.

If you do use winter tires, keep in mind that the minimum tread required by law is 1.6 mm, but 4 mm is recommended.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What you should know about speeding fines in Switzerland 

If there’s snow and ice on mountain roads, your car must be fitted with chains

However, you are obligated to put on chains only when there are signs marked “Mandatory snow chains”. The chains must allow starting, braking and lateral guidance on snow and ice.

It is recommended to chain at least two of the driving wheels on the same axle and never exceed the speed of 50 km / h.

Failure to comply with the obligation to use snow chains may cost you 100 francs.

Remove snow and ice from the car before hitting the road

This should be self-evident, yet many drivers neglect to properly clear the snow from the roof and hood, and defrost their windshield, windows, mirrors, and headlights, to ensure optimum visibility.

Snow falling from the roof represents a danger for the other vehicles on the road, and you could be fined 200 francs if stopped by police.

But in a typical Swiss fashion, you can’t use just any products to de-ice the car, as the government specifies they must “respect the environment”. 

The Federal Office for the Environment lists the ingredients that should be used for defrosting purposes.

Whether you drive in winter or any other season, Switzerland has new traffic rules that went into effect on January 1st.

You can see them here.

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


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