Talking Turkey – the rights and wrongs of the road
We have a friend who has spent some time in an African country (which we will leave unnamed) who has told us many a story about the flexibility with which the local laws are sometimes applied.
Apparently, what you do sometimes seems less important than who you are, particularly when it comes to the rules of road.
And one example was being slapped with a fine for driving across a zebra crossing when no one was using it simply because a traffic policeman judged she had approached it too quickly.
“What if someone had been coming; you might not have been able to stop in time,” he admonished her.
“But there was no one there,” she replied. “Even if there had been, I still had time to stop.”
“Ah … But what it they were running towards the crossing?” replied the policeman.
“Well, I’m guessing they would be able to see me coming and slow down to a walk before crossing,” our friend suggested.
“But what if they were blind?” the policeman persisted.
“So you’re suggesting I should approach every pedestrian crossing slowly just in case a blind man comes running out of nowhere in front of my car?” our exasperated friend asked.
“Exactly,” said the policeman piously, issuing an on-the-spot fine amounting to around $30.
And, although it’s a story which may raise a smile a few years later, it’s the sort of thing which can stick in the craw a little when you’re trying to find your way in a new home overseas.
Right now, Turkey is a case in point; indeed, a whole gamut of new traffic regulations have been passed recently – or, to be more precise, the powers that be have announced many of the old ones will be more rigorously enforced.
But, while the good intentions may be there, the application seems more random and haphazard with short-term clampdowns on one thing apparently completely forgotten the next day.
On Monday, you’ll see queues of scooter owners waiting at police checkpoints to be ticked off or fined for riding without a helmet. On Tuesday, the same riders – still bare-headed – sail past unhindered.
On Wednesday, it’s insurance documents checks; on Thursday it’s your ID (or your passport or visa if you’re just visiting).
Then there are drones in the air looking for anyone not wearing seat belts and, while one driver is handed a fixed penalty for not doing so, a family of four ride past unmolested on a single moped.
A word of advice
Of course it makes no sense and our advice would be not to try to add it all up; it’ll drive you mad.
In fact, the best thing to do is to ignore everyone else and simply ask yourself if your behaviour is beyond reproach. If you have all the correct documents, wear your seat belt, switch off your phone, keep within the speed limit – and stop at pedestrian crossings – what can go possibly go wrong?
Of course, there’s still a chance you’ll be stopped – even if the car waved through the police checkpoint in front of you appeared to be held together with old bits of Lego.
But, produce the right thing at the right time, stay assured but polite, and there’s every chance you’ll be on your way and financially none the worse for wear.
But if you would like a little more advice about life in Turkey or living abroad why not get in touch?
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