We now have our permanent car (isn’t she a beauty) here. When I am driving in Switzerland, I’m not worried about getting in an accident or even parking in a teeny tiny space. I’m worried about following all of the rules. Here are some:
- Seat belts are compulsory for all occupants (expected).
|Wearing his seatbelt|
- Children under 12 are not allowed to sit in the front seat without an appropriate child restraint (also expected).
- No right turn on red. I can deal with this.
- Pedestrians always have the right-of-way in pedestrian crosswalks. I can deal with this. Unfortunately, the drivers with French plates who consistently try to run me over have difficulty doing so.
- Hazard lights may only be used to warn of danger. This is a bit different from driving in the US, where I use them when stopped in front of someone’s house.
- No honking is allowed after dark. How else am I supposed to show my road rage? This merits a definitely different.
- Noise from car or occupants that could disturb people is prohibited. Does this mean I can’t blast my bass?
- The minimum driving age is 18. FYI, the drinking age for wine and beer is 16.
- Mobile phones may only be used with a hands-free system (similar to the US).
- Headlights must be used in tunnels. Logical, but this is not really an issue in Michigan. On Sunday, I think we went through at least 8 tunnels on our way to Geneva. By the way, not only do you have to use your headlights in tunnels, the speed limit drops and they use radar to fine you if you are following too closely. You’ll get a nice little note from the Swiss government in the mail about a week later.
- Headlights should be on and dipped during daylight hours, especially on major routes. We can do this.
- Each car must carry a red warning triangle (reflective vests are not obligatory). Thank goodness our rental came with it, because I’m not sure where to buy a red warning triangle. Hmmm… I’d better check to make sure our new car has one.
- Snow chains are required in some winter conditions. Who doesn’t love this? Okay, he doesn’t love this. To quote him, “what happened to all season tires?” Mom said, “maybe they don’t have them over here.” He said, “Michelin? Pirelli?” We have ours and have paid to store our normal tires for the winter. You can breathe easy, we are in compliance.
- It is illegal to drive if the windshield is partly or completely obscured by frost; it is illegal to let the car idle to aid clearing the windshield. Curses, that was my go to move. I am ashamed to say that I would sit in the front seat drinking coffee and let my car warming up do the work for me. I try to be pretty green, but that was one instance where I didn’t worry about my greenhouse gas emissions.
- Helmets are compulsory for driver and passenger on all scooters, motorbikes, quad bikes and trikes. The motorcycles and scooters are so aggressive here and we have already seen several accidents. I can see why they have this rule.
- Speed limits are enforced with cameras. If you do not obey this one, you will receive an appropriately Swiss (expensive) speeding ticket in the mail. The amount is determined by taking a percentage of your income?!? Expect more on this in future posts.
- Radar detectors are illegal. Okay. The dreaded ticket in the mail becomes much more likely without one of these. Oh yeah,the speed limit is only really posted when it is an exception to the above rules (posted at the border).
- When driving in a city, town or village, the right of way at an intersection is automatically given to the vehicle on the right – priorité à droite – unless otherwise indicated by stop or yield/give way signs. This applies even in the case of a small side road entering a major main road. The vehicle traveling on the main road must give way to the vehicle entering on the right. I have just been waiving everyone on ahead and hope that when I am not doing this properly, people appreciate my being nice. We are working on it.
- At a traffic circle, the vehicle already on the circle has the right of way over vehicles joining from the right. No problems so far here, but as a nation, the US has great difficulty with the traffic circle.
- On hill roads, the car travelling uphill has priority over the one coming down. You should see the narrowness of some of these roads. This makes perfect sense.
- If a car is not registered in the driver’s name, the driver should carry a letter from the registered owner authorising the use. Very, very different.