Turkey at a Glance
Driving in TurkeyiStockphoto
Congestion is not the only thing expats have to cope with when driving in Turkey - the driving style also takes getting used to.
If you are moving to Turkey and are planning on taking your car, you should be aware of the rules and regulations for driving in Turkey. As with most foreign countries, driving habits and rules differ from your home country. This applies to Turkey as well. Driving in Turkey is known to be a relatively chaotic affair, and motorists are not always as prone to following rules as one might prefer. Do not rely on other drivers to pay attention; it is always wise to behave rather defensively when driving in Turkey.
Driving in Turkey: Road Infrastructure
There are 352,000 kilometers of paved roadways in Turkey. From smooth highways that are up to European standards to pothole-filled rural roads with virtually no tread – the road conditions you may face when driving in Turkey vary wildly. There is an extensive system of toll roads in Turkey, mainly between Ankara and Gerede, Edirne and Istanbul, Istanbul and Izmit, Tarsus and Pozanti, and Izmit and Gebze.
Keep in mind that, if you plan on driving in Turkey somewhat extensively, buying a prepaid toll pass (called Kartlı Geçiş Systemi (KGS)) is a good idea. Sometimes, cash is not even accepted anymore, for example, when you cross the Bosporus Bridge in Istanbul by car. You may purchase such a card at most banks or before entering the toll road. Prices for the card vary from 1 to 5 YTL. The card acts as a sort of debit card; once you purchase it, you can load it with as much credit as you wish. Depending on which vehicle class you opt for driving in Turkey, however, the initial sum you have to load onto the card must be between 50 and 100 YTL.
Some of the more common signs you will encounter at toll stations include:
- Nakit : You can pay in cash in this lane.
- Kapali denotes a closed lane.
- KGS/Kart : the aforementioned prepaid pass.
- %20 ucuz: You can ignore those lanes as they will usually not apply to you.
Most toll roads still have cash-only lanes, thus not requiring you to get a KGS, although the card is not a bad investment as it simplifies driving in Turkey to some extent.
Driving in Turkey: General Safety Advice
In general, be aware of the following when driving in Turkey:
- Do not drive after dusk, as some drivers neglect to turn on their headlights until way after dark.
- Pay attention to everything around you when driving in Turkey!
- Be aware that you may be passed on the right and even passed while passing someone.
- Being tailgated, honked at, and having lights flashed at you for no apparent reason is part of the experience of driving in Turkey.
- Pay attention to drivers who may simply stop at the side of the road to drop off or pick up someone without any warning.
- When driving in Turkey’s rural countryside, you may be met by animals crossing the street or piles of stones indicating an accident or car failure site (instead of warning triangles or flashing emergency lights).
- Horse-drawn carts, tractors, and even bicycles are not an uncommon sight on highways.
Driving in Turkey: Accidents and Road Rage
Be especially cautious when driving in Turkey’s larger cities such as Istanbul and Ankara, as road rage is seen as more of a side effect of driving than an illness in itself. Turkey itself has even begun to attempt to diminish the road rage. “Stop the traffic monster within you” is a slogan that you can spot along roads when driving in Turkey. This is how the government attempts to promote safe driving.
If you end up in an accident, despite following all the hints for safe driving in Turkey, do not move your car. This may be seen as an attempt to flee from or change the scene of the accident. It is best to stay put and call the traffic police. If there are no severe injuries or damages to your car, the problems are usually resolved between the involved parties with potential witnesses joining in to confirm the events.