A Conversation for Driving Etiquette - Switzerland

Number plates

Post 1


One good thing about Swiss number plates is that it's very easy to identify the canton (roughly equivalent to a British county) your fellow road-users come from. Consequently, a great deal of fun can be had reinforcing local prejudices.

People coming from the canton of Aargau (plate code AG) are renowned for being the worst drivers in Switzerland. Consequently, if you see an 'AG' doing something stupid and/or dangerous, be sure to remember it and trot it out as an anecdote the next time the subject comes up in a pub conversation. (It will.)

People from Z├╝rich (ZH) are widely perceived as arrogant and therefore disliked by the rest of the Swiss population. Feel free to pull out in front of them, and on no accounts make space for them in congested traffic. The same applies to cars with German plates, obviously.

People from the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland are identified by TI on the number plate. It must be the Italian genes, but these people feel obliged to be the fastest on the road. On no account overtake a TI on the motorway, unless you wish to start a 100 km-long vendetta.

People from the rural areas of central Switzerland are identified by the plates OW, NW, UR, GL and SZ. If you are in one of these cars in a major city and commit any sort of faux pas, expect raised eyebrows and comments about tractors.

Any car with code SG comes from St. Gallen, and has therefore probably been stolen.

The most unpopular drivers on Swiss roads are however the Dutch. On seeing a distinctive Dutch number plate the typical Swiss driver will either have a panic attack, and insist on taking a diversion, or will attempt to overtake, and put the danger behind him, no matter what the risk. The theory is that the flat Dutch landscape makes them psychologically and technically unprepared for any sort of winding hill road. Particularly when they're towing a caravan.

Unfortunately for British drivers, to the untrained eye the British number plate looks similar to the Dutch. So if a Swiss driver behind you suddenly starts behaving like a maniac, you will know the reason why.

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Number plates

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