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Driving in Turkey

This guide was written by Başak Yıldız Orkun, Managing Partner at Orkun & Orkun (info@orkunorkun.com) in collaboration with Guides.Global (office@guides.global).

It was written on 16 June 2017. The law and practice in Turkey change all the time. Our guides are updated as frequently as possible - typically every three years - but may be out of date.

Our guides are prepared by professionals from many countries. They are, of necessity, both brief and general and can take no account of your personal circumstances. They are intended to be a good introduction to the subject BUT ARE NO SUBSTITUTE FOR PROPER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE, which our contributors will usually be happy to provide upon request.

The advice and opinions contained in the guides are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Guides.Global.

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The scope of this guide

This guide is about driving in Turkey. It looks at driving conditions, the rules of the road, and their enforcement.

You may also want to watch the video version of this guide or download the audio (MP3) guide.

Introduction

Driving in Turkey is pretty simple - especially if you come from a country where they drive on the right-hand side of the road. Simple, but not unexciting. Turks tend to drive very quickly, usually weaving through traffic and often whilst speaking on their mobile phone. Too frequently (though less often than before), they do this after consuming alcohol.

Its traffic laws are similar to those in most European countries, as are the rules about who can drive.

There are lots of police controls, looking for drunk drivers, drivers with no licence or insurance and vehicles that are dangerous. They are also looking out for general criminality, wanted people and so on.

The two things that make driving in Turkey a little more complicated - and off-putting to some people - are the poor secondary and local roads found in most of the country and the foolhardy courage of some Turkish drivers: no gap is too small, no straight too short to overtake and no speed quite high enough! However, this stereotype of the Turkish driver is getting a little out of date and standards have improved enormously over the last few years.

Driving a car that you have temporarily brought to Turkey

If you have brought your foreign registered car or vehicle to Turkey on a temporary basis you are allowed to drive it in Turkey on the basis set out above. You must be able to produce proof of ownership of the car.

The right is a strictly personal right. Only you, your spouse or your children may drive the car. It may not be used for commercial purposes.

These rules are a result more of the restrictions on importing vehicles than they are the law relating to driving licences.

Things you must carry with your in your vehicle whilst in Turkey

When driving a vehicle in Turkey you must (at least in theory – many don’t bother) carry with you:

Insuring your vehicle in Turkey

See our guide to insuring your vehicle in Turkey (coming soon).

Annual vehicle checks in Turkey

There is no annual vehicle safety test.

Basic rules of the road in Turkey

IMAGE TITLEIn Turkey, they drive on the right-hand side.

Generally, the speed limit in towns is 50kph. In some places it is 30kph

The speed limit on all other roads except motorways (freeways) and two-lane highways (dual carriageways) is 90kmph.

On the two-lane highways is 110kph.

On motorways (Freeways): 120kph

There is a general tolerance of 10% over these limits.

There are a few exceptions (for example, near schools) but these will be clearly signposted.

There are a growing number of speed cameras in Turkey - and lots of cows around blind bends!

IMAGE TITLEThe permitted blood alcohol level is low – 50mg of alcohol in every 100ml of blood.

Pedestrians have an absolute right of way on pedestrian crossings – in theory. You must stop if you see a pedestrian on the crossing or about to step on the crossing. If you are a pedestrian, don't rely on this happening!

You and your passengers (front and back) must always wear seatbelts if your vehicle is fitted with them.

Children under less than 1.35m (about 4'6”) tall or under 36kg in weight must be restrained in proper child seats.

Car parks are marked with the internationally recognised 'P' symbol or “Otopark”.

The road signs are, in the main, the conventional European road signs. See this page for some translations of text-based signs.

Parking in Turkey

In Turkey, parking is a cross between an art form and a type of medieval warfare. In the towns, and in many of the developments by the sea, parking is in short supply. Finding and occupying a parking space can, therefore, be challenging and – once he’s found one – any local Turkish driver would feel that he had failed miserably if he did not seize it and, somehow, squeeze his car into it.

If the space is a little too small for the car, this process can involve him gently (or not so gently) pushing the cars in front and behind out of the way.

Having said all that, there are various types of parking available:

On-street parking

In small towns, unless the road is labelled to say that parking is restricted in some way, there is no need for any permit to park on any street in Turkey. Nor is there any charge for such on-street parking.

However, in the major towns and cities, in most streets parking is restricted in some way. This is often by the presence of a parking warden, who will charge you the appropriate parking fee.

Off-street parking

Most towns and villages have off-street parking.

Some of it is privately owned and cannot be used by the general public.

Some of it (such as supermarket car parks) is privately owned but can be used by the general public upon the terms stated. These are, normally, that it can only be used by customers and only for a maximum of two hours.

Some is publicly owned and can be used by anybody upon payment. Proof of payment is almost always by displaying a voucher in your car. The cost of parking and the length of time for which you park varies from place to place.

Fuel in Turkey

Fuel is widely available. In the last few years thousands of large new fuel stations have opened. You will seldom be more than a few kilometres from a place where you can buy fuel.

IMAGE TITLEPrices vary from place to place. Typically (March 2017):

In rural areas, tax-free diesel is also often available. It is cheaper. It may only be used in agricultural vehicles. If you’re found using it illegally, you will be subject to a large fine and your vehicle will be seized and not returned to you.

Motoring offences in Turkey

There are many, the main ones being:

Driving dangerously

Dangerous driving is very broadly defined and very subjective. It can cover driving too quickly, driving too close to another vehicle, overtaking on bends, passing when not permitted, using your mobile phone whilst driving and all sorts of things pretty much at the discretion of the police officer who stops you. If you disagree with their assessment you can, of course, try to persuade the judge that what you were doing was not dangerous.

In most circumstances these are treated as administrative offences (and fined as such) rather than full criminal cases. Each offence has a different penalty. Typical penalties are a fine of TRY100-200. There is usually no loss of your licence. However, if you put the public in serious danger you can be taken before the criminal courts.

Driving whilst drunk

If you are stopped, breath-tested and fail the test – 0.05mg/ml of blood (as of January 2013) for cars and 0mg/ml for commercial drivers or those towing – your licence will be suspended immediately for at least 6 months, the vehicle will be banned from the road and there will be an administrative penalty.

On a first offence the penalty is TRY876 (£193/€221/US$247). On a second offence, the penalty is TRY1,098 (£241/€277/US$310) and the licence will be taken for two years. On a third offence, the penalty is TRY1,763 (£388/€455/US$498), plus at least six months in jail and the licence will be taken for five years. You will also have to take a fresh test at the end of the five years.

You can refuse a breath test. If you do you will be taken to a hospital for a blood test.

Driving without insurance

As in most countries, it is a criminal offence to drive without valid insurance. In Turkey, the fine is usually a modest TRY95 (£21/€24/US$27) but your car will be impounded until you produce proof of insurance.

Road accidents in Turkey

Read our guide to Accidents on the Road in Turkey.

The police in Turkey

There is a heavy police presence on the roads in Turkey and they routinely stop drivers to check on their insurance and other driving documents.

Random stops are permitted.

The police officers are invariably courteous, but they are also invariably strict. If they discover that you have committed any offence or that your car is in any way defective you can expect a fine or a summons to attend court.

Despite what many people believe, the fines levied by the police do not go into their pockets!

If your vehicle fails a safety check for anything other than the most trivial of reasons (for example, a failed stop lamp bulb) it will usually be impounded and then taken away by the police to a vehicle storage centre where it can only be recovered by an officially approved garage who will then carry out the necessary repairs to it. The fee for releasing your vehicle varies from place to place.

Conclusion

Driving in Turkey can be slightly frightening for someone not used to it, but you'll soon become accustomed - although we do NOT recommend picking up other drivers' bad habits!

Stick to the rules of the road, as police are strict and getting stricter. Dealing with a fine or an impounded vehicle in a new country is even more of a disaster than it is "back home".

Other guides of interest

 Description Link 
Turkey Country Guide
Essential facts and figures about Turkey
Click to see this guide
Transport & Transport Links in Turkey
Getting to - and getting around - Turkey
Click to see this guide
Driving Licences in Turkey
Making sure you're driving legally in Turkey
Click to see this guide

You may also want to read:

 Description Link 
Safe Driving in Turkey
"How to avoid accidents in Turkey."
Safe Driving in Turkey

Readers' Comments

 

Further information?

I hope you have found this guide useful. If you need any further help, please contact me.

Başak Yıldız Orkun

16 June 2017


 

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