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Am I bonkers to consider driving in Turkey? - Myths about driving in Turkey

26th January 2015

You may well ask yourself, just how difficult is it to drive in Turkey? 

If it is your first time to Turkey the idea of driving in Turkey can seem a daunting task, especially in major crowded cities such as Istanbul. Whereby in reality driving in Turkey whether it is in the small towns or large cities is not so difficult. Generally driving in Turkey is not as bad as some may make out.

Most of the roads and highways are in very good condition. Turkey is investing a lot of money in their road infrastructure and the roads are well signposted. 

Popular misconceptions about driving in Turkey

1) "Don’t drive in Turkey because the locals are awful drivers, you're end up in a traffic accident caused by some crazy Turkish driver the moment you pull out in your rented car"

If you are an experienced driver and have ever driven abroad before or in major cities such as London, New York, Rome etc. then you will be well adapt to driving in a city such as Istanbul. Basically, if you are a competent driver in your own country, then you should not experience any problems.

Turkish DriversThe locals tend to be impatient drivers, especially at traffic lights. Expect a toot from the cars behind even before the traffic light turns green. This is not meant to be aggressive. In addition some Turkish drivers may not leave enough space between cars and you may encounter unexpected stops or turns without signaling from local road users.

The Turkish government has made great attempts to reduce traffic accidents and have implemented government safety driving campaigns.

The two-lane highways have become, or are becoming, safer four-lane divided highways ensuring the main roads are wide, smooth and easy to drive.

2) "There are no rules of the road in Turkey; they don’t even stop at red lights..."

Turkish drivers do abide by traffic rules. The vast majorities of drivers are courteous and obey the usual rules of the road. They will stay in their own lanes, stop at red traffic lights, heed to speed restrictions, use car signals and will rarely got too close to your vehicle.

Horn TootingJust remember that use of the horn is endless in Turkey. You will hear horns being used constantly, but do not let it worry you. They are used to letting other road users know that they are there or the traffic lights are about to change, they're about to overtake or they’re about to turn etc. It is simple courtesy.

Foreign motorists tend to get irate at being "honked at", whereas in Turkey drivers will not be offended.

Remember to be cautious when stopping at a pedestrian crossing. Vehicles in Turkey tend to not stop at pedestrian crossings, so you could be likely to get rear ended from the car behind if you do.

Traffic control speed cameras have been installed on many highways and at the entrances and exits of cities and towns. Offences caught on camera are subject to penalties. The fines can be very expensive.

3) "Don’t bother driving, you're just get lost.."

Be prepared before you set out on your journey, buy a map or use a GPS device.

Signage on the roads and motorways is very clear and always indicate the next major town. There are multiple petrol stations and rest points/eateries along all roads and highways in Turkey.

4) "I don’t speak or read Turkish so I cannot possibly drive there...."

Turkish drivers are very forgiving: they expect foreign drivers to make mistakes and most will be very happy to help.

Explanation of road sign colors

Green - is the expressway color - which is almost always toll roads.

Blue - indicates the toll-free highways.

White - directions inside cities or exits signs

Brown is an indication of a touristic site.

Turkish Highway & Bridge Toll In Turkey the toll highways and bridges operate on a High-Speed Toll System, Hızlı Geçiş Sistemi – HGS. Which basically means that you cannot pay the highway or bridge tolls with cash or credit card. You need to obtain an HGS registration sticker/label or an HGS registration card which is displayed in your front windshield/windscreen,, this applies whether your vehicle is private or rented.

You can purchase this from any post office – PTT for 10TL.

You must then pay a minimum of 30TL credit on your HGS account to be used for payment of tolls.

List of tollbooths and prices on Turkish highways

Major cities in Turkey - road maps


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Comments (9)


27th January 2015 İ do not agree with the above. Turkish drivers mainly ignore speed limits, lane markings & traffic signs. The road İ travel on daily from Koca Çaliş to Çaliş, Fethiye, is full of blind bends and has double white lines in the centre of the road. Every time i drive there İ am met with Turkish drivers coming at me on the wrong side of the double white lines. İt is illegal to cross double white lines but İ guess Turkish drivers either do not know this or do not respect it. This is why there are so many head-on crashes and a horendous amount of fatalaties on Turkish roads most days. Having lived & driven a car and a motorbike and a bicycle for five years here İ can testify that the majority of Turkish drivers are dangerous, arrogant and are not fit to drive. İ have been knocked off my bike and my motorbike by motorists who "did not see me"! İ am sorry but the above story is not true, driving in Turkey is dangerous, being a passenger in Turkey is dangerous, most taxi drivers are maniacs & even the polis are not very good drivers.


27th January 2015 I agree that Turkish drivers can be unpredictable and they may just turn left or right without signal etc: But I love driving in Turkey,
I have to be more aware of what is going on around me and give other cars space when they are parked, as doors often just swing open for passengers or driver to get out. It is a challenge but if you are a confident driver and look out for the unexpected then you will be fIne. I guess if you are a motor cyclist you are more vunerable than a car driver, but only slightly more so than any other country. I wouldnt try Istanbul as my first driving trip out as it is manic, cars coming from all directions, also, do not drink any alcohol at all while driving as there is zero tolerence In Turkey. Give it a go, it is a fabulous country and you will see more of it if you can drive yourself around.
Sue H


27th January 2015 The major roads are generally quite good except in town, try driving through Akbuk or round Didim the roads are a mass of potholes or bumps. Many Turkish drivers have obviously never learned to drive and must have bought their driving licenses.
There are so many cars on the roads around Didim that can not have passed a legitimate MOT, that are obviously not safe. I've seen more bald tyres here than anywhere else that I've been to.
Having said all this I just accept it as " Turkey " . I chose to live here so I accept the situation and drive more defensively than I might in Europe.

Pete Jones

27th January 2015 I totally disagree with this article,Turkish drivers are unpredictable,undisciplined and dangerous. Traffic signs,traffic lights and road markings mean absolutely nothing to them.They will pull out of sidestreets right in front of you without even looking and will think nothing of crossing a solid white line to overtake and drive headlong at oncoming traffic flashing their lights.
The Turkish driving test is a joke,they have a few driving lessons then they go out on the test and the instructor just asks them to drive up and down a quiet piece of road and then issue them a licence,I know because I watch them outside my house.
A lot of cars are in a dangerous condition and when I asked a policeman how they got through the MOT test he said they dont take the MOT test because "they are too old" ????
Anyway after living in Turkey I have learnt to accept that this is the norm but tourists need to be aware of the dangers.


27th January 2015 Turkish roads are improving and generally are good. But the drivers are really bad and downright dangerous!! Everyone goes through red traffic lights, maybe not at busy junctions but at the more quiet places. Turning left from the extreme right hand lane cutting across traffic without indication or looking is an every day occurrence. Double and triple parking is common especially outside banks. Anyone who thinks driving standards are good must be either deaf dumb and blind, or a really bad driver themselves.
I live here and have had to change my driving to avoid being involved in traffic accidents. My car however has been run into on at least 5 occasions whilst parked legally, 4 times in car parks.
Please do not believe driving standards are good here, it is simply not true.


27th January 2015 The person who wrote this artcle about "The Myths of Driving in Turkey" must be delusional. The standard of driving here in Turkey is,without doubt, atrocious. There just seems to be a complete lack of road sence and driving skills wherever İ have been in Turkey. Yell Ali, you are in danger of losing your credibility with this story!

Big Dave

27th January 2015 Where did you get the information from to write this Blog, Yell Ali? This is not the Turkey I have lived and driven in for the last 7.5 years. Never a day goes by when driving when I see a Turkish driver doing something stupid. Jumping red lights, speeding, poor lane control, overtaking on blind bends are endemic. I have been rearended because a Dolmus pulled out in front of me when in traffic travelling at less than 10km/hour, I have had to swerve to avoid head on collision on a windy mountain road I have been cut up at traffic lights. I have had drivers pull out of side roads without any consideration to other road users. I do have to admit there is little or no 'road rage' because most Turkish road users seem to accept that poor driving standards are acceptable. As Albaman suggests you are in great danger of losing your 'street cred' on this blog.


29th January 2015


31st January 2015 All our members are welcome to post comments, however any posts using inappropriate language will be removed. Thank you.

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