Turkish Driving Habits

Driving is improving in Turkey, helped by more experienced drivers and government safe-driving campaigns, but Turkish drivers do some things you may not be accustomed to.

Decades ago, the habits listed below used to be quite common. Today they are much less common. You may drive for hours or even days without encountering one of them. Still, you must be prepared. Don’t think that because it hasn’t happened, it can’t happen.

Pay particular attention to all of the following which are common in AnkaraIstanbul and others parts of the country:

Passing on the right and cutting in front of other vehicles from the right side

—Pulling over to the right and letting vehicles pass before turning left

Unexpected stops or turns without signaling, for no apparent reason

Stopping in unexpected locations by cars, buses and trucks, to maneuver, pick up or let off passengers, including main highway entrance ramps, intersections, and along major highways. Don’t believe me? Watch this video Trans-European Motorway in Istanbul, sent to me by a Turkish driver (January 2012):

Pedestrians seemingly completely oblivious to oncoming traffic who 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

Disabled vehicles parked without warning signs

Inattentive drivers

Unskilled drivers

—Taxis and other vehicles with bad brakes

Unexpected lane changes and stops by taxis, mini-buses (dolmus) and city buses

—Tractors, horsecarts and farm vehicles traveling without lights at slow speed on highways

—In the countryside, the use of stones or tree branchesrather than warning signs to mark accidents, breakdowns, and road work

—During rainstorms, accidents increase dramatically because of oil on the road surface

—Road surfaces that are much smoother and provide less traction than normal

Vehicles backing up (in reverse) on exit ramps and on main highways

Animals on highways

—In the countryside, watch for herds of sheep, goats and other animals on roads

Drivers who tend to drive in the middle of the road, making it difficult to overtake them (do NOT overtake on the right, even if there is room to do so)

—Drivers that overtake on blind curves

—At night, cars without lights or lights missing

—Oncoming drivers who flash their headlights whether you have your “brights” on or not

Tire-shredding potholes

Tailgating drivers (ie, drivers following too closely)

—Drivers that attempt to pass you while you are passing another vehicle

Unmarked intersections (ie, no stop signs), primary road has right of way, but proceed with caution

—by Tom Brosnahan


Highway Signs

Defensive Driving

Road Warrior Driving Tips

Police Checkpoints

Driving During Ramazan

US Consulate Driver Safety

Safe Driving Homepage

How to Find Good Maps

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Transport in Turkey

Turkish Language Guide

Paris Girls Secret Society, the new novel by Tom Brosnahan

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