A road traffic regulation that irritates Swiss drivers: those who attach the GPS device to their windscreen risk a report and a stiff fine – or even a suspension of their driving licence. Depending on the canton such infractions are punished more or less severely.
Last year alone, approximately 10,000 licences were suspended due to the illicit use of communication and multimedia devices such as telephones and navigation systems. And the number continues to grow according to the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO). This is not only the fault of those who use the phone when driving. Drivers mounting their sat nav in the middle of the windscreen also contribute to this increase.
In fact, this is prohibited by law. The reason for this is that the GPS device blocks the driver's view there.
How high is the fine?
Those who are caught by the police face a traffic fine of up to 500 francs. In addition, administrative charges are levied. Thus, the total cost can easily rise to 800 francs. Incidentally, the excuse that you did not know about the regulation does not prevent you from being fined.
This is what the law says
If the driver's eyes are 0.75 m above the seat, he or she must have an unrestricted view beyond a semi-circle with a radius of 12.0 m. These are the rules set out in the Road Traffic Act.
The driver's field of vision must be completely free except for objects that are explicitly permitted such as sun visors, the interior rear-view mirror and the motorway sticker.
The graphs from the Zurich City Police illustrate the safe use of mobile navigation devices. Open as PDF here (in German).
In practice, this means that the the GPS device should be mounted either at the upper or lower edge in the corner formed by the dashboard and the windscreen.
How to test your 12-meter field of vision
If you want to make sure that your sat nav is installed correctly, draw a radius of 12 metres in front of your car, attach the device to the windscreen and check whether your field of vision is free.
Sticking to this rule can be difficult depending on the car model. Just think about sports cars, for example, with their relatively small windows. In such a case, the driver can only hope that the police are tolerant.
How tolerant are the police in Valais and Zurich?
The punishment for an incorrectly mounted sat nav is not equally severe in all cantons. The canton of Valais is considered particularly tolerant. There the police do not issue any fines. Instead, they give advice on how to mount the GPS device properly and help the driver to attach it in a place where it does not restrict the view.
In other places, like Zurich, for instance, the police accept it if the device is installed at the upper or lower edge. As a reason for this they state that the navigation system improves road traffic safety.
Don't operate the sat nav while driving
By the way, aside from the incorrect installation of the device, it is also prohibited to operate it while driving. Likewise, pennants, air fresheners or plush toys dangling from the rear-view mirror are banned since they also restrict the driver's view – and thus put other road users at risk.
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