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Travel, Teach, Live in Europe and Middle East

How to Drive in Switzerland

When touring Switzerland, you should definitely do it by car. Driving will allow you to get lost exploring the country. If you've never done it before, be sure to follow these steps because driving in Switzerland can be confusing.

Apply for an International Driver's Permit (IDP) at any American Automobile Association (AAA) branch. Go online or check the local phone book to find the AAA closest to you. To get your permit, you must be at least 18, have two 2-by-2-inch photos, your driver's license, the fee and your AAA application. You must have an IDP to drive in Switzerland.

Get a rental car. Ask your travel agent to help you find a good deal, or you can book your own car at a rental car company Web site.

Know what kind of gas your car takes. Most rental cars either take unleaded petrol (bleifrei, essence sans plomb or benzina sensa piomba), diesel (diesel or gasolio) or LPG (autogas, gaz de petrole liquefie or gas liquido). If you fill up at a full-service station, be sure that the attendant knows which type of gas to use.

Know the speed limits in the country. The speed limit on the motorway is 120 kph; 80 kph on major roads and 50 kph inside town. Always observe posted speed limits for safety and to prevent from being pulled over.

Familiarize yourself with traffic signs and Swiss driving phrases. Since there are four official languages in Switzerland, road signs often change languages and are very confusing. Use your German, French, Italian and Romansch phrase books to translate the signs.

Purchase a vignette and affix the sticker inside your windshield to use the tolled autorotes. You may buy one in advance at a Swiss tourist office, or you may purchase one from a post office there.

Equip your car. It is required by law to carry a warning triangle and a spare pair of prescription glasses if you need it. It is also recommended that you carry a fluorescent vest, fire extinguisher, replacement bulbs and a first-aid kit.

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