Changes to roads in Switzerland in 2023: What you need to know
The Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) has announced major changes to roads and motorways in Switzerland from 2023. From the introduction of 30-kilometre-per-hour zones to carpooling and cycle paths, here’s what you need to know about the changes.
Major changes for roads and drivers in Switzerland in 2023
At a press conference in Bern on December 12, FEDRO announced a new raft of measures designed to change roads and the rules for drivers in Switzerland. Some of the new policies will come into force on January 1, 2023, while others will be put in place from the beginning of April.
Carpooling lanes to arrive in Switzerland in January 1, 2023
From January 1, FEDRO confirmed that carpooling lanes will be allowed in Switzerland. The policy, already set to be imposed in Geneva from the new year, will allow Swiss cantons to reserve a single lane of traffic for cars with two, three, four or more passengers.
Authorities explained that the new carpooling lanes will allow cars with passengers to use reserved lanes or bus lanes when commuting. FEDRO hopes cities and cantons will use the system in future, as according to 20 minuten, they think the system will reduce traffic congestion and “environmental damage.”
New cycle path law in Switzerland (Veloweggesetz)
What’s more, from January 1, the federal government in Switzerland is set to enact the new Cycle Path Law (Veloweggesetz). While Switzerland already has a “national” cycle route system through SwitzerlandMobility, politicians are worried that not enough is being done to make cycling safer or more widespread.
Therefore, the new law orders every Swiss canton to make cycling more attractive and safer by building and maintaining its own cycle route networks. The law also states that the federal government should build cycle paths on streets that they control.
30-kilometre-an-hour speed limit will be easier to impose on Swiss roads
The government has also made 30 km/h speed limits much easier to implement for cities and local councils (Gemeindes). From January 1, local authorities no longer have to give an expert or legal reason to reduce the speed limit on roads, a big change from the previous system where councils had to prove that the traffic situation was dangerous in order for the zone to be approved.
However, the government confirmed that authorities still needed to announce and publish the change in advance. They were also quick to mention that the 50 km/h speed limit will continue to be the standard for roads in built-up areas.
Emissions standards upgraded and new rules for heavy vehicles
In two smaller changes, drivers of vehicles with blue licence plates are now exempt from the “truck ban” symbol on roads and motorways - a measure designed to help the fire brigade and other emergency services get to call-outs faster. The system that checks particulate filters on diesel cars - used during vehicle inspections - will also be upgraded in 2023.
Returning confiscated driving licences to be sped up in Switzerland
In the second batch of changes, from April 1, 2023, the Swiss police will speed up the process of returning confiscated driving licences. Police now have three working days to give the driving licence back to cantonal authorities, who then have 10 working days to send the licence back to the person by post - unless they doubt the person’s “suitability to drive.”
Truck drivers to be allowed to drive without a licence under set conditions
Finally, to minimise the risk of truck drivers losing their job over small infringements, FEDRO confirmed that people who have had their licences confiscated due to minor offences will be allowed to make journeys that are “necessary for their professional activity.” However, this will not apply to moderate or serious offences, or those who have had their licence revoked indefinitely.
FEDRO announces its "innovations" for 2023
According to FEDRO, the new measures are designed to "innovate" the roads and motorways of Switzerland. For more information, check out the official press release (in German).