Driving in Turkey has got a colourful reputation and foreigners gasp at the total disregard for safety. Many first time visitors to Turkey will stand on the pavement( if there is one) for about five minutes just staring at the traffic. Their mouths fall open and they seem to think their eyes are playing a trick on them. They are not.
No doubt you’ve heard of “when in Rome do as the Romans do”. So read on and learn how to drive like a Turk!
Tips for driving in Turkey
Right of Way
Never assume that you have right of way, even if the law says you do. Right of way will depend on whether the other driver is in a rush, has a dentist appointment or he just assumes he is the only driver on the road.
It will soon become clear that when driving in Turkey, traffic lights are a waste of time and money. No one pays attention to them , unless a police car has pulled up besides them. If you decide to pay attention to the lights, then be ready for a line of cars behind you, hooting their horns when the lights turn from red to orange.
They are simply put in cars to confuse the driver and have nothing to do with safety. They have no purpose on earth. So what if the other driver can not anticipate your next move. It keeps them on their toes. Even if you use your indicator to turn left, expect the driver behind you to overtake you on the left to go straight ahead. Remember indicators are useless.
Approach them at your own peril. Know the person on the inside lane will suddenly cut across in front of you, to turn off. Know that when you are coming off the roundabout, there will be a pedestrian crossing there. When you nearly run the pedestrian over, you will get abuse from them, as well as the other drivers who have gone into the back of you.
They are a world unto their own. Drive a moped without a helmet and you will only be stopped by the police if he is bored and has nothing else to do.
Under no circumstances should you point out to the police officer, that he does not wear a helmet himself.! If you want to fit your whole family on the moped and drive into town, then feel free to do so, you will just be keeping up with the Joneses.
Never attempt to get from A to B by using a map. They are non-existent in Turkey and the ones that are sold are twenty years out of date. If you ask any local shop keeper, they will draw directions on a napkin, which he will then use to wipe the sweat off his forehead.
If your friend is driving towards you from the opposite direction then it would be rude not to say hello. You must stop the car in the middle of the street, wind down the window and discuss how the family is doing. If any cars behind you start beeping their horns, don’t worry because karma will catch up with them.
This is an interesting concept of which you will never get your head around. There are either a lot of parking spaces or none at all. Feel free to ignore all parking spaces and safety rules if you are in a rush though.
Instead leave your car in the middle of the street with the engine running and door open, run into the shop, have a chat with the owner and then run back out to your car. Wave to all the frustrated drivers who have lined up behind you, get in your car and simply drive away.
Whilst traveling on a long journey, you will see cars flashing their head lights at you. This is to warn you that a speed camera is ahead. The speed camera is actually a police man sat in a plain car which is meant to be discretely hidden. Resist the temptation to wave at him when you drive past.
Around 1000 meters up the road will be another marked police car, and whether they stop you will depend on whether his wife let him have marital nuptials the night before.
An on-the-spot fine will be issued of which the police officer will add another 50 lira, so that he can take his mistress out to dinner.
If you can master all the above then you are confident in the fine art of driving in Turkey. Driving in Turkey is a wonderful way to see the country and after a couple of hours on the road, you will feel like you are quite able to tackle any obstacles or threats to your safety
One last tip is to remember we drive on the right here. Enjoy yourself.