Driving in Turkey

  • Published
  • By Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39th Air Base Wing Host Nation Adviser
Question: Mehmet, I am new here and I've noticed that driving off base is quite challenging. What do you recommend for driving in Turkey?

Response: You might remember that I say "Driving in Turkey is not dangerous but adventurous" in my briefings. Below is an article from www.mymerhaba.com about driving safely in Turkey. 

The fundamental rules of safety to survive Turkish driving are: drive very defensively; avoid driving at night, and never let emotions effect what you do. 

A number of accidents occur when a local driver stops, takes some unexpected action or turns causing the foreign driver to hit the other vehicle or be struck by others. Many of the "unexpected" actions are unexpected according to driving standards but are quite common in Turkey. A high percentage of traffic-related deaths are pedestrians in overcrowded major cities. 

The following defensive measures can and should be taken to increase the odds in your favor for accident-free driving: 
- Always wear seat belts and keep children in the back seat with seat belts and/or in a child safety seat. 
- Drive defensively, defensively, defensively. This is very important and not a catch phrase to be taken lightly. 
- Use your horn to get pedestrians' attention and use your lights to get the attention of other drivers. Pay attention when other drivers use their horns. 
- Dusk is really a dangerous time on intercity highways since most drivers delay turning on their headlights until well after dark. Therefore oncoming traffic can be very hard to see. 
- Watch out for trucks and buses that take the right-of-way without signaling, whether they are entitled to it or not. 
- Check all mirrors and use directional signals for lane changes and do not forget to confirm with a direct visual check. Also, check the right side mirror in particular. 
- Use four-way flashers to warn the following drivers of suddenly slowed or blocked traffic to avoid being hit from the rear. 
- Drive everyday as though you have a mission not to be involved in an accident, cause an accident or strike a pedestrian. 
- Always expect the unexpected. 
- Guess nothing. Make no guesses about what another driver may do or how they will react in a situation. Do not think that they have seen your vehicle or will do the "right" thing. 

Pay special attention to the following common occurances 
- Unexpected stops or turns without signaling, for any obvious reason.
- Passing on the right and cutting in front of other vehicles from the right side.
- Unexpected lane changes and stopping at unexpected locations to pick up or let off passengers by "dolmus, taxis, city or intercity buses and trucks including main highway entrance slopes, intersections and along major highways.
- Completely careless and unskilled drivers.
- Drivers that drive in the middle of the road and give way to no one.
- Drivers that overtake on blind curves.
- Drivers that attempt to pass you while you are passing other vehicles.
- Tailgating drivers.
- Pedestrians completely unaware of oncoming traffic that continue to walk or run in front of vehicles to cross streets and main highways.
- Trucks parked on the highway at night without lights rather than on the side of the road.
- Cars without lights or lights missing at night.
- Animals on highways. Watch for herds of sheep, goats and other animals on the roads.
- Tractors, horse carts and farm vehicles traveling without lights at slow speed on highways.
- Oncoming drivers playing enigmatic light games, flashing whether you have your "brights" on or not.
- Tire-shredding potholes. 

These are the basic actions you are going to experience while driving in Turkey. However you are likely to experience more.