Is it safe to drive in Turkey?

Author : isturkeysafe


Last Update : 10/12/2018

For a person who get used to drive in Europe, it is quite challenging to drive in Turkey. Driving in big cities like Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir can be a nightmare. Although the roads are often adequate, some drivers can be insane! Here are some tips about driving in Turkey.
  • Many drivers consider the traffic signs as a recommendation, not a necessity. You can often come across traffic rule violations such as changing lanes and turning without using a signal light, following the vehicle in front dangerously close, passing in the red traffic light and passing on the pedestrian crossing without stopping. Especially, public transport vehicles ('Dolmus's, buses) and taxis violate a lot of traffic rules, so extra care must be taken when driving around such vehicles. In addition, many drivers do not wear seat belts even though they are required by law.
  • In the country the signposts are insufficient, you can easily get lost by following them (most of the time the signboards are not put before enough but in the turns, it can also cause many accidents). For this reason, it is necessary to use navigation to drive the car. It is difficult to drive a car using a map because new routes are constantly being made and changes are made on existing routes. Google Maps and Yandex Navigation applications can be used for this purpose. Google Maps is more useful to find a hotel, restaurant or hotspot you're looking for, while Yandex's instant traffic information and routes are more successful.
  • To drive the car in Turkey, you must be over 18 years old. The driver's license you receive from your home country is sufficient to drive the car for a trip in Turkey.
  • As a pedestrian, you have to be very careful here. Many drivers do not know that they must stop at the pedestrian crossings, so you should double check the road while crossing even you use the pedestrian crossing. As a driver, you should also be careful when you stop on the pedestrian crossing, as many drivers are unaware of the need to stop at the pedestrian crossing, even if you stop, the car behind you may hit you, such accidents are frequently experienced.
  • In order to pass through the toll roads, the car must be equipped with an HGS ('Hizli Gecis Sistemi'->Fast Tracking System) label or an OGS ('Otomatik Gecis Sistemi'->Automated Tracking System) device. When renting a car, inquire about the existence of this infrastructure, otherwise you may encounter high traffic fines. In some ways, the passage can be expensive, and during the rental, find out if the total price includes tolls and how the payment method will be.
  • According to the World Economic Forum 2017 data, Turkey ranks 28th among 138 countries according to road quality. It has a higher road quality than many European countries.(Click for WEF Road Quality Index) Nevertheless, potholes and speed bumps are important issues to consider especially when driving within the cities. Infrastructure projects in Turkey generally is not done collectively, roads are being excavated several times for each infrastructure type(water, sewer, electricity, internet, etc.). For this reason, where patches are found on the roads, sometimes pits may occur which should be avoided. Also as there are many drivers who are exceeding speed limits, local authorities are placing speed bumps in many places in order to stop them(especially around the schools). Sometimes the signboards may be inadequate prior to these bumps, so the speed limits should be taken into consideration all the time when driving in the city.
  • Legal speed limits in Turkey varies according to the type of road. Speed limits for passenger cars in Turkey at 2018 are as follows;
    • 50 km / h in the settlements
    • 90 km / h on intercity regular roads
    • 110 km / h on inter-city divided roads
    • 120 km / h on motorways
  • Driving documents obtained from foreign countries can be used for a maximum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Turkey. After the six-month period, a driving license from Turkey should be obtained.
  • Passing the vehicle in front of your vehicle from right is prohibited by law in Turkey, but very few driver uses the vehicle in accordance with this rule. For this reason, be prepared for the drivers who will pass you from right on the multi-lane roads.
  • In Turkey, for non-commercial drivers, 0.5 promille alcohol was determined as a legal limit. In general 50cl beer or 1 glass of wine is within the limits(It depends on the medical condition of the person). If the alcohol level is found higher than 0.5 promille when measured, driver will be fined over 1000TL and driver's license will be suspended. The best is not to drink any alcohol before driving.
  • Drivers who are found to have received drugs or stimulants will be fined over 4000TL and their driver's license will be suspended. Also legal issues will be applied.
  • What about plate format in Turkey? In Turkey, all plates are in the form of two numbers, a space, one to three letters, a space and three to four further numbers (like 06 AT 356 or 34 TBY 001). The first 2 numbers indicate the city where the vehicle is registered. There are a total of 81 cities in Turkey, so this number can be 81 at maximum. For example, plates of all vehicles registered in Istanbul start with '34'. Likewise, plates registered in Ankara start with '06', plates registered in Izmir starts with '35'. The rest of the plate letters and numbers changes for all cars.
  • In conclusion, sometimes it can be dangerous to drive in Turkey. If you prefer so, rent the car from a professional company (Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz etc.), include full insurance (because you cannot know what will happen when you are in the car, even crashes in the parking lot are quite frequent) and fasten safety belt at all times.

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