Driving in Turkey is certainly not for the faint hearted or anyone that suffers from road rage!
Unfortunately, the traffic accident rate in Turkey is one of the highest in the world. The government are trying to address this issue with education, TV campaigns, signs, random roadside police stops and advertising but the fact remains that you should be very cautious when driving anywhere in Turkey and constantly expect the unexpected! That said, if you are a confident, driving shouldn’t be avoided as it opens up the opportunity to visit many beautiful and fascinating places. Thankfully, the majority of UK and European drivers are taught well so can easily adapt to driving in Turkey and there’s plenty you can do to avoid accidents.
Anyone living in Turkey could no-doubt give you countless examples of stupid and dangerous driving they have played witness to. The main causes of frustration seem to be the fact that many on the road don’t indicate, cut in or cross lanes in-front of you with no warning, skip traffic lights, carry ridiculous loads that aren’t tied onto their vehicles properly, and seem generally unaware of road safety rules. The best way to deal with this is to drive carefully and defensively, stay calm if other drivers do something stupid, and have a good idea where you are going. As is the case world over, cities are busy and congested, rush hours best avoided if possible. Main tourist towns and resorts do get busy, especially during the summer months, and smaller villages and resorts are fairly quiet and easy to navigate.
10 Things to be aware of when driving in Turkey
1. Roundabouts. Many of the roundabouts in Turkey require you to drive directly onto the roundabout and give way on the roundabout itself – to the traffic coming in from the right. There are normally ‘DUR’ (Stop) signs or traffic lights on the roundabout, or it is an unwritten rule in most cases.
2. Flashing Traffic Lights. In quieter villages and often during the night you will see traffic lights flashing. This means that you can proceed providing you take caution. Many traffic lights also allow you to filter through to the right if it is safe to do so.
3. Pedestrian Crossings. There are an increasing number of pedestrian crossings springing up in Turkish resorts yet many local drivers do not seem to stop or be aware of what they mean. Sometimes they have traffic lights so they do stop, in other cases they just seem to highlight pedestrian targets and you get beeped and shouted at if you stop to let someone cross the road – be cautious!
4. Drivers pulling into the right at junctions. Be aware that many Turkish drivers will pull into the right to let traffic pass before turning left.
5. Stopping in unexpected places and double parking. Many drivers do stop in seemingly dangerous places – junctions, highways, crossings etc. You will also find many cars double parked into the road – especially outside banks, government buildings and popular restaurants and bars.
6. Turkish and foreign pedestrians. Be aware that many pedestrians so just seem to wander into the road seemingly oblivious of the risk from oncoming traffic.
7. Animals on the road. Chickens, goats, cats and dogs do roam freely in many areas so be aware that you will find many on the roads.
8. Unmarked Intersections. Be careful when driving through towns and villages as many main intersections are not signposted so can be extremely hazardous.
9. Cars using their horns. Horns are used to warn people you are coming, to say hello, to warn of danger, to move people out of the way and often when overtaking to alert the other driver. You will hear horns going everywhere!
10. Drinking and driving. Do not drink and drive. You will probably encounter many that overlook this rule, especially in coastal resorts, but the best and legal policy is to avoid alcohol when driving (you are breathalysed if an accident happens).
What to do if you have a traffic accident in Turkey.
Accidents do happen so remember to be cautious when driving and keep in mind that many drivers in Turkey will do things that you don’t expect – be constantly aware of the traffic around you. It used to be the case that you had to leave your car where it was once when an accident happened and call the police. This law changed in 2008 and now the police don’t have to be summoned in the following circumstances:
- If no-one is killed or hurt;
- If the accident involves 2 or more vehicles;
- If the vehicles have only suffered material damage;
- If a ‘Tutanak Formu” (Traffic Accident Form) is filled in and signed, with witnesses where necessary, stating both parties involved agree on the cause of the accident and agree to responsibility. This form should then be given to the relevant insurance companies. The form can be downloaded on www.ukinturkey.fco.gov.uk website with advice on filling the form out in English.
If the accident is more serious, or there are issues on who is to blame, then the following applies:
1. Call the Traffic Police on 155 and get them to attend the incident. Do not move your car and do not accept any handouts or money offered from the other party (especially if they are drunk or not insured).
2. If there is a language barrier, ask for the police to contact the British Embassy and it’s also a good idea to contact a trusted bi-lingual friend if you have one for assistance.
3. Once the police have arrived you will be asked for your driving license, passport and for the cars log-book which should have the insurance details of the car inside (if a Turkish car or hire-car). You will also be breathalysed.
4. The police may take some time to arrive (in some cases hours) but remember not to move your car. A police report has to be written for you to make an insurance claim and is normally collected from the local station a couple of days after the accident.
Please note: Although we have tried to effort ensure that the information we supply is correct, it is intended for advice purposes only and we do not accept any blame for inaccuracies. Please contact the relevant authorities if in any doubt.