Thursday, 24 June 2010

Reckless Driving

Not a day passes in this country when you don't see an example of reckless and dangerous driving.

I haven't checked the statistics but I was told recently that Turkey has one of the worst records for road traffic accidents in the world.  And frankly it doesn't surprise me.

Hardly anyone uses their seatbelts.  Motorcyclists rarely use crash helmets.   Drivers seem to think traffic lights are to be ignored.  They use mobile phones while they're driving.  It's not unusual at all to see babies and young children, unrestrained, on the laps of their mothers in the front passenger seat.  The dolmuş (local bus) is often overloaded with far too many passengers.  Not to mention the fact that our village bus stops at the petrol station to collect petrol in plastic containers for use by a village tractor...which are then placed inside the bus with the passengers.     The list of risks taken by Turkish drivers is endless.

And there is an obsession with over-taking...even on roads where there are clear "no overtaking" signs...often with tragic results.  See this report in Todays Zaman......absolutely devastating.

I have asked several Turks in the past, including my husband, why they take such risks.  The answer is always the same.  "Everything in life is in the hands of Allah...what will be will be...when it's your time to go, it's Allah's decision, not yours"...or words to that effect.

I hope I'm not being disrespectful when I say that this is carrying "faith" just a little too far.


  1. Oh it sure is carrying faith a little too far Ayak.

    We have spoken of this before, driving in Ireland is pretty hazardous at times, they overtake, don't indicate, pull out of country roads, drive to close behind you, roundabouts which are a relatively new thing over here, well the Irish don’t do roundabouts, they drive over the top of them, drive in the right hand lane when they should be in the left hand lane, or sit for ages waiting for an opportunity to pull out, I have seen people go round and round not knowing which road to go too. They also don’t bother with don’t overtake signs

  2. As Ann mentioned before, I agree with the fact that maybe they're taking faith a bit too far.

    Most of the problems you mentioned, often occur here (India) as well. Reckless drivers are everywhere. But they should take into consideration that there are not only putting their life into danger, but also other drivers, pedestrians and other people.

    Loved your post as usual! xxx

  3. In the past, the dolmus drivers had a young kid with them who would collect the change etc. Now, they made it illegal the driver does this, while driving at break-neck speeds, talking on the cell phone and adjusting the radio. I am almost afraid to hand any large bills to the driver any more.

    As far as your comment on how it relates to the faith, I have to agree. One time when I was working at a private course in a small town in the north, there was fire. It was on Saturday night and it was probably arson (there was a rumor of illegal gambling going on in the lower parts of the building). The school was located on the 4th floor with one narrow escape route down the steps but since the school was closed at that time, nobody was hurt. However, when I pointed out to the manager that if this event had happened earlier in the day when the school had over a hundred students, it could have been a major disaster. We had no drills and nobody was trained on how to use the extinguishers, no way of accounting for the students once they managed to escape. Nothing. When I tried to explain the necessity of these very minor safeguards he said, "Yes, we were very lucky. God protected us." After that, I gave up. How can you reason with that way of thinking? Later, that town was shaken to the ground in the earthquake that killed so many in 1999. I cannot help but connected the two events in my mind.
    In the end, don't you think all faith-based fatalism is merely an excuse? I mean, underneath all of it is the idea, that the rules are for "the other guys." I mean, every night they can see the results on the news, so there is some kind of lack of empathy going on somewhere.

    And furthermore- (stepping down from my soapbox) It certainly doesn't help to see traffic police breaking those same rules for absolutely no reason.

  4. Ann..yes we have discussed it...and the similarity in mentality between the two countries at times. Very worrying.

    Mel: Yes I imagine things are similar in India. I've tried but can't seem to get across the point that Allah can't be responsible for the way you actually DRIVE your car.

    Nomad: Yes I also remember when young kids collected the money. I always wait till I've reached my destination and the dolmus has stopped before paying now...whether its a big note or not.

    Don't get down from your soapbox on my account. I agree with you that faith-based fatalism is just an excuse.

    Oh yes...of course...the traffic police and the breaking of the rules they are supposed to impose..there's a whole new blog post at least in that one!

  5. The other night, a friend and I went to the carsi area and took a dolmus back. We were practically the only ones on it at that time of night and it was like some kind of luna park ride. Terrifying and exhilarating at the same time, sliding around on my seat to and fro and popping up to the ceiling whenever the driver hit a bump. I was wild-eyed and white knuckled all the way back. All it would have taken is something unexpected- a dog darting across the street, for example.. and we would have become quite unexpected guests in someone's home.
    And another thing! Have you ever noticed how mothers here use their prams to stop traffic? Just because the light is red and pedestrians are allowed to cross doesn't mean you have to fling your offspring out there to test the drivers.

  6. Oh god yes Nomad...I thought I was the only one who noticed that with mothers and prams.

    Have you also noticed how few pedestrians actually use pavements (sidewalks)? They all walk in the road...why is that? I must say it makes it easier for me as I always use the pavements because they are completely empty!

    Your dolmuş ride reminds me of a taxi to the airport years ago, when the airport shuttle bus had left without me. It took the driver half an hour to do the normal one and a quarter hour journey...aaargh I'd never want to repeat that one!

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  8. Continuing the sidewalk rant: Three people walking in one direction can find a way to take up the entire sidewalk and will not allow anybody to pass in the opposite direction. One time I was carrying a large TV and a pair of women refused to budge or allow me to pass without stepping off the sidewalk. I shouted, "PARDON," so loudly they nearly jumped out of their skins.

    Also, it's a pain in the buttocks when you are walking behind such people who can block a sidewalk and at the same time, walk as slowly and erratically as humanly possible.

    Off topic but funny.
    On a plane to Istanbul. Add lots of stress because of a family illness. Sitting on the plane and the man next to me is actually pushing my arm off the arm-rest with his elbow so he can put his arm on it. It was starting to get like a wrestling match. Finally, I did my "Bey Efendim" to him and he starts shouting- really shouting- that I was being selfish because I wanted both arm-rests on either side. My wife turned and said,"But.. isn't that what HE wanted too??"

    Nobody teaches civility anymore, I guess.

  9. Well I never experience people getting in my way on the pavements because they all seem to be on the road..I guess I'm lucky!

    The plane seat story is funny...and of course your wife was right!

  10. What especially annoys me is people throwing rubbish out of windows when you honk horns at them- not even rowdy teens, middle aged men! Men also seem to have an obsession with overtaking or otherwise driving circles around my mother, and it seems to be more of a 'I'm-so-macho' thing... I've never heard the specific explanation you offered from anyone.

  11. I have seen a whole family, mum dad and a child on a moped but the one that couldn't be topped was the man and his goat on a moped!!!

  12. Lale: Ah yes..the throwing of rubbish from windows...and not just when you honk your horn. And now you mention it...the honking of horns impatiently at traffic lights when the light turns to red!

    auntiegwen: ıt's amazing how much can be carried on a moped..I can go one better. A neighbour in Turgutreis used to carry wife and TWO children on his moped. The way he achieved this was tying a rolled up carpet onto the seat so that it was hanging over the back.

  13. Oddly enough, Greeks drive the same way (no helmets, talking on the phone, too many people on a motorcycle - I once saw a mother and three kids, on their way to school on a vespa, and she was talking on the phone!!!)

    Their answer is almost exactly the same: "When it's your time to go... what will be will be. It's in the hands of God."

    Maybe it's a Byzantine thing, this odd take on safety? Certainly it's not a common Western mindset.

    But then again, we are choking on rules and regulations in the West. A little anarchy sometimes feels good.

  14. truestarr: There are a lot of similarities between the Greeks and the Turks aren't there? I do find it a bit bizarre that they put so much faith in God..without taking any personal responsibility.
    Oh and I agree..sometimes a little anarchy does indeed feel good xx


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