Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Turkey, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
Drive defensively at all times and take every precaution while driving in Turkey. Drivers routinely ignore traffic regulations, including driving through red lights and stop signs, and turning left from the far right lane. These and other similar driving practices cause frequent traffic accidents. Drivers who experience car troubles or accidents pull to the side of the road and turn on their emergency lights to warn other drivers, but many drivers place a large rock or a pile of rocks on the road about 10-15 meters behind their vehicles instead of turning on emergency lights. The use of a cell phone while driving is strictly prohibited by Turkish law. Driving while using a cell phone can lead to a fine of 72 Turkish Lira (TL) (approximately $40) fine.
Be extremely cautious while driving at night. We recommend that you not drive after dark outside of major cities. Some local drivers drive without their lights on or with very low lights, making it difficult to see them. It is not unusual to find hazardous objects in roadways such as dead animals, large rocks, missing sewer covers, deep holes, or objects that have fallen from vehicles. Live farm animals can also be found near or in the roadway in rural areas.
Roads in Turkey run the full gamut from single-lane country roads to modern, divided, trans-European motorways of European standard. Highways in the tourist-frequented western, southwestern, and coastal regions of Turkey are generally in good condition and are well maintained, while conditions in other areas vary. The legal limit for alcohol is 0.50 promil (100 milliliter blood and 50 milligram alcohol), which is approximately 0.05%. Penalties for driving drunk include a fine of 650 Turkish Lira (TL) (approximately $365) and the individual’s license will be confiscated for 6 months.
To enter Turkey with your own vehicle you will need your passport, driver’s license, car registration (note: if the vehicle belongs to another individual, a power of attorney is needed), international green card (insurance card) with the "valid in Turkey" sign visible, and, for those who wish to proceed to Middle Eastern countries, a "carnet de passage" transit book. A vehicle can be brought into Turkey for up to 6 months. Extensions can be obtained if one applies before the end of the initially declared and approved period. Applications should be sent to the Turkish Touring and Automobile Club: Türkiye Turing ve Otomobil, 1. Oto Sanayi Sitesi Yani, 4. Levent, Istanbul, Tel: (212) 282 81 40 or Fax: (212) 282 80 42), or to the General Directorate of Customs: Gümrükler Genel Müdürlügü, Ulus, Ankara Tel: (312) 306-8000, Fax: (312) 306-8995, 306-8965 or 306-8195.
A valid U.S. driver’s license is accepted in Turkey for a short-term visit up to 90 days. For stays up to one year, a U.S. driver’s license is valid as long as it is accompanied by a notarized Turkish translation. An International Driving Permit is accepted but must be accompanied by your U.S. driver’s license for stays up to 90 days. For stays of up to 1 year your U.S. driver’s license and a notarized Turkish translation are required.
To obtain a Turkish license, you will have to attend private driving lessons for 6 weeks before the final exam, which is administered in Turkish. On average, to obtain a Turkish driver’s license takes 8 weeks.
In Case of an Accident: For accidents involving only vehicular damage, the drivers may exchange insurance information and depart if both sides agree. New Turkish traffic rules do not require a call to the police in cases where no injury or death occurs, but instead require drivers to fill out a form and provide pictures of the car damage. As the form is in Turkish only, it is the best for non-Turkish speakers to call and wait for the police; otherwise, drivers may be held liable for the accident. If anybody has been injured or if there is disagreement about the accident, the drivers must remain at the traffic accident site, and are not to move their vehicle — even to move it out of the way — until the Traffic Police arrive. The accident should be reported to the Traffic Police (Tel: 154) or Jandarma (Tel. 156) and you should obtain a certified copy of the official report from the Traffic Police office. This can take up to several days to receive. The owner should also apply to the customs authority with his passport and accident report. If the vehicle can be repaired, it is necessary to inform the customs authority first and then take the vehicle to a garage. If the vehicle is not repairable and if the owner wishes to leave the country without his vehicle, he has to deliver it to the nearest customs office, and the registration of his vehicle on his passport will be cancelled. Only after this cancellation can the owner of the vehicle leave the country. When in doubt, it is best to call the Traffic Police or the Jandarma in the event of an accident.
You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.