Driving in Turkey?

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Driving in Turkey

Anyone who has ever been to Anatolia knows that the preferred style of driving in Turkey is rather chaotic. Expats who have no alternative to driving in Turkey should definitely proceed with caution until they have fully acclimated to local traffic. Our guide on driving in Turkey has useful hints.

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 this country. As with most foreign countries, driving habits and rules differ from your home country. This applies to Turkey as well. Driving here 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.

The Turkish Road Network

There are 313,151 kilometers of paved roadways in Turkey, including 2,010 km of expressways. From smooth highways that are up to European standards to pothole-filled rural roads with virtually no tread — the road conditions in Turkey vary wildly. There is an extensive system of toll roads in Turkey, with some of the major ones running between Istanbul and Ankara, Edirne and Istanbul, Tarsus and Pozanti, Izmir and Aydin and Adana and Urfa.

HGS: Road Toll in Turkey

If you plan on driving on toll roads in Turkey, you will need to purchase a prepaid toll pass (called Hızlı Geçiş Sistemi (HGS)). This new system was launched in September 2012 and uses radio-frequency identification technology, which means that vehicles no longer have to slow down to swipe a card when passing through tolls.

You can purchase an HGS sticker at many banks and post offices (PTT). The sticker costs 10 TRY and you must add an initial sum of 30 TRY to your account. The sticker must be mounted on the front windshield just below the rearview mirror.

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 the 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.

Take Good Care of Yourself

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 has one of the highest road accident rates in the world, with 1,207,354 accidents reported in 2013 alone. 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.


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