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DRIVING

Have your say: Should Switzerland change motorway speed limits?

Swiss politicians are calling for a reduction in motorway speed limits to help curb climate change and minimise reliance on Russian energy. Do you agree or disagree? Let us know.

People drive along a highway outside of Zurich, Switzerland. Photo by Jose De Queiroz on Unsplash
People drive along a highway outside of Zurich, Switzerland. Photo by Jose De Queiroz on Unsplash

Switzerland’s Greens are calling for a nationwide reduction in speed limits, wanting to reduce the current limit of 120km/hr on motorways to 100km/h. 

Green National Councilor Raphael Mahaim (VD) announced on Tuesday he would submit a proposal in May. 

Mahaim said it would help achieve environmental and geopolitical aims. 

“On the one hand, the lower speed limit is intended to counteract dependence on Russia, and on the other hand it is intended to reduce CO2 emissions,” Mahaim said. 

In addition to the Greens, the proposal has won support from GLP, but is opposed by the Centre, the FDP and the SVP. 

Matthias Aebischer, a National Councillor with the Social Democrats, said that while the SD “agreed with any proposal which reduced greenhouse gas emissions” they felt it would take “far too long” for the idea to make any realistic contribution to minimise Switzerland’s dependence on Russia. 

FDP National Councilor Christian Wasserfallen said Switzerland “should instead harmonise with other countries and increase the speed limit to 130km/h.”

The maximum speed limit in Austria is 130km/h, while neighbouring Germany’s Autobahns famously have no speed limit. 

The maximum speed on Swiss motorways is 120km/h and 100km/h on expressways. On highways the speed limit is generally set at 80km/h, while in built up areas like cities and towns it is usually set at a max of 50km/h. 

Several urban areas in Switzerland have however indicated they want to introduce a 30km/h limit, including Zurich, Geneva, Freibourg and St Gallen, while the limit has already been reduced in parts of Bern, Basel and Lucerne. 

READ MORE: These parts of Switzerland are set to introduce a 30km/h speed limit

Experts suggest that up to 15 percent of fuel consumption can be saved by driving at 100km/h rather than 120km/hr. 

Have your say

While some are pushing for tighter speed limits – including restricting all traffic to 100km/h – others have argued it should be increased to 130km/h. 

Think things should slow down a tad? Or want them sped up? 

Let us know. 

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DRIVING

What to do if you have a car accident in Switzerland?

An accident is not on anyone’s ‘to-do’ list, but sometimes bad things unfortunately happen to good people. These are the steps to take if you are involved in a road accident in Switzerland.

What to do if you have a car accident in Switzerland?

Of course, nobody plans on a car accident, with many of us thinking it’ll never happen to us. Even if you are a safe driver, you could still be a victim of an accident caused by another person.

Nearly 18,000 traffic accidents involving injuries  had been reported in Switzerland in 2020 — the last year for which official data is available. Fortunately, the vast majority were relatively minor; over 3,700 people were seriously injured and 227 were killed.

The only bright spot among these grim statistics is that the number of car accidents has dropped considerably — by 62 percent —  in the past two decades.

EXPLAINED: How does roadside assistance work in Switzerland? 

What should you do if you are involved in an accident?

If this happens, it is normal that you might get nervous, stressed out and feel in a state of shock, possibly forgetting how to act and what to do.

The steps to take are the same whether you or the other driver(s) are at fault. According to motoring organisation Touring Club Suisse, this is what you must do immediately after a traffic accident.

Stop and keep calm

This is easier said than done but it is essential that you keep a cool head.

  • First, turn on your distress signals
  • Determine the number of vehicles involved, their positions and the nature of the accident
  • Secure the scene of the accident by installing the warning triangle at least 50 metres (approximately 60 paces) from the scene of the accident. Note to self: make sure you have these triangles in the trunk of your car.

Make an accident report in writing

Describe the course of the accident with the help of the European accident report. If you don’t already have this document, you can download it here.

Always keep this document in the glove compartment of your vehicle: hopefully, you will never need it, but it is  better to be prepared.

In the best-case scenario, everyone involved in the accident can stay polite or, in the very least, civil. All parties can then fill out the accident report together, with each person signing it.

Taking photos of the damage is always helpful.

Declare the accident to the insurance company

Don’t repair your vehicle until after your insurance company has examined it.

If you are at fault, your insurance will settle with the other driver(s)’ insurance; if the other party is responsible, then your carrier with seek compensation from the other policyholders.

READ MORE: Which Swiss canton has the worst drivers?

When should you call emergency services?

Traffic accidents are common and most are minor, not requiring an intervention from emergency services or law enforcement.

However, one or the other (or both) should be called if:

  • You or other people involved are injured (ambulance number: 144)
  • There is a risk of fire or explosion: call the fire department (118)
  • When an argument or a fight erupts among the parties involved in the accident, call police (117).

What equipment should you always have in your car?

In Switzerland, you are only required to have the triangle, according to TCS. Safety vests are not obligatory but it is good to have one nevertheless, as they are compulsory in many other European countries, including Switzerland’s neighbours.

This map shows where the vests are required:

Countries marked in yellow require safety vests. Image: TCS

Another very important thing to know before you even hit the road (though hopefully not literally): car insurance is mandatory in Switzerland, even if it is only the basic one that doesn’t cover your own vehicle, but covers others.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about car insurance in Switzerland

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