In the past, Turkey has been noted for its high traffic accident rate, especially in the two largest cities: Istanbul and Ankara.
According to the World Health Organization’s 2013 report using data from 2010, Turkey’s road fatality rate per 100,000 motor vehicles was 58, comparable to Mexico, Uruguay, Lebanon and Indonesia. This is higher than the 6 to 9 annual fatalities per 100,000 vehicles in Australia, Canada, other European countries, and the UK, or the 13.6 in the USA, but substantially lower than the world average of 93.3.
Alarmingly, the number of fatal accidents increased by 90% between 2005 and 2014, to 168,512, as did the total number of automobile accidents (to 1.2 million). This increase exceeds the increase in the number of vehicles on Turkey’s roads (18,828,721). Nearly 89% of accidents were ascribed to driver error: excessive speed, faulty overtaking, lane changes, etc. Friday is the worst day for accidents, Tuesday the least bad. About 66% of accidents occur in daylight, 34% at night.
Many of those injured or killed are pedestrians, by the way.
During the past two decades, the Turkish government has made huge efforts to decrease traffic accidents:
—Most important two-lane highways have become, or are becoming, safer four-lane divided highways (though not otoyols/expressways).
—Traffic control cameras (MOBESE) have been installed on many highways and at the entrances and exits of cities and towns. Officers monitoring the cameras, and others in radar speed traps, can and do issue citations (penalties) for offenses caught on camera. The fines are expensive.
—In the event of an accident, alcohol breathalyzer tests are mandatory for all drivers. The legal blood-alcohol limit is quite low.
—Driver education campaigns teach safe driving and remind unsafe drivers of the consequences.
How to Drive Safely
I’ve driven tens of thousands of kilometers on Turkish roads without a mishap, but I drive very defensively.
Don’t let the scary statistics keep you from considering car travel, which affords a freedom of movement unlike any other vehicle.
The cardinal rules of safety to survive Turkish driving are:
1. Drive very defensively
2. Avoid driving at night
3. Never let emotions affect what you do
For more tips on how to increase your safety while traveling by bus, see ASIRT, the Association for Safe International Road Travel.
You can have a safe and enjoyable auto trip in Turkey. Click to the page links below for more info:
—by Tom Brosnahan