Repressed Anger?? Arrogance?! Turkish Drivers and Road Rage!!

Yesterday, my husband and I were headed back home from a lovely weekend at a thermal spa.  Patalya Thermal Hotel is nestled in the mountains of a national park, about an hour’s drive from downtown Ankara.  We were rather relaxed.  We had taken advantage of the thermal pools, saunas, and baths.  I even had an aroma therapy massage!  Life was good.

The View from our Window

Outdoor Thermal Spring Pool

Our weekend had started quite oddly.  We were going to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  When my husband surprised me with the trip, two days before departure, within an hour we learned that his mother was also going.  Not with us of course.  But somehow she simultaneously booked rooms with her friends – at a neighboring spa.  That was a bit odd, and of course, necessitated more phone calls than necessary and a couple of pitstops out of our way.  But it wasn’t a problem.  We had celebrated in peace – without visitors from the family.

Barış Enjoying the Weather (5 ° Celsius/ 40° Fahrenheit)

The second oddity once at the hotel, we ran into friends of ours, a couple we had first met in Philadelphia.  They were there for the weekend with two other couples and kids.  Crazy thoughts had run through my mind.  Had my husband invited all of these folks for some reason?  Alas, it was just a coincidence.  We enjoyed each other’s company at times.  But group ventures were not forced on us.   So as I said, we had a lovely weekend.

Our Friends Trekking through the Woods

As we left Kizilcahamam, we stopped for a quick bite to eat.  The menu consisted of two items, köfte or kebap.  So we ordered one of each.  As we left the restaurant, we noticed other tables being served baby lamb chops and other cuts of lamb.  What the heck?  Perhaps they were specials.  But only the insiders knew . . . 

Still I was happy.  It had been a beautiful weekend afterall.

The drive was good.  Traffic was bearable.  The snow-capped mountains becoming more distant.

Mountain View

As we entered the Ankara city limits, we decided to make a quick stop at  Bauhaus (the German Home Depot).  They had some fun curtains I wanted.  And then BOOM!  That is when things changed!

We were driving up behind Cepa Mall.  We were in the innermost lane of two lanes and the oncoming traffic had three lanes.  In natural Turkish style, some guy made a fourth lane, hanging out there by himself, trying to jump ahead and nudge his car into the other lanes.  The problem was that the other cars weren’t moving.  They were stuck in mall traffic.  And the lane he had “created” happened to be the on the inside – hence it was the lane we driving in and we were headed straight at him.

Now, my husband, being Turk, should have simply forced his way into the right lane to avoid hitting this character.  But unfortunately for this guy, my husband has been Americanized.  He follows driving rules.  He uses turn signals.  He stays in his lane.  He lets pedestrians cross the road.  He pulls over for ambulances instead of racing them.  All of these things that must seem foreign to the Turks.  I can just imagine them yelling “yabanci” at him!

(Video above displays typical Ankara traffic.  Race the ambulance.  Block the lanes.  Make sure you honk your horns!)

So in this particular situation, my husband decided to drive head-on, stopping the car about 3 feet in front of the violator of road policy.  I was shocked but pleasantly surprised.  My hubby had balls.

Inhale . . .

There was room for this guy to back up out of our way – as an acknowledgement that we was in the wrong.  Afterall, he was in our lane – a lane of oncoming traffic!  But instead, he immediately jumped out of his car ran up to my husband’s window and started pounding on the glass, yelling at him!  Now mind you, this guy was clearly in the wrong, but in a Turkish state of mind, we were the offenders to him.

My husband backed up a little and started to pull away, crossing over into the other lane.  But this guy followed on foot – pounding on the window at the backseat of the car.  My husband pulled to the right and I jumped out of the car.  By that time, the driver of the vehicle and an older man who had apparently also jumped out of his car were headed back to their car.  They were too far behind us now for us to do anything about it.

For the next hour, we talked about what “could” have happened.  My husband is a gentle, mild-mannered, very calm man.  He wished I had my camera in my hand so that I could have captured the license plate.  He wished the guy would spend a night in jail.  He wished the guy would have at least been detained for an hour by the police for questioning.

Barış at Kuyu Başı Piknik Alanı in Soğuk Su Milli Parki

I, however, am a mad woman!  I wished I had been quick enough to grab my cell phone to take photos of him beating our little “Meggie.”  I wished I had sent the photos to every major newspaper, so this jackass’ friends could see what a true idiot he was.  I wished I had been a little faster to jump out of the car – because my feeling is that nothing embarrasses a man more than having his butt kicked publicly by a woman!

Beaten Meggie Still Loves Us!

What is it that forces Turks to drive like this?  Why don’t they wear seatbelts?  Why do they let their children run wild in their cars?   Each year there are about 495,000 car accidents in this country of around 75 million people, with 77,000 injuries, 4,430 fatal crashes and 136,000 serious injuries.  It may be pompous of Americans to think that the Turkish style of doing particular things is wrong and that our foreign ways are better.  But in the case of road safety, almost any other country has better drivers and are more concerned about safety than getting to the next red light. 

Is it repressed anger that forces a man to jump out of his car and attack others when he is 100% in the wrong?  If you think Americans are pompous, you have never experienced the arrogance of a Turkish driver!  The road rage!  I have heard stories of a German Diplomat who was severely beaten in a traffic incident.  Well, actually, there was no incident.  The Turkish driver was abusing him so much on the road that he pulled over and was subsequently attacked.  I have heard stories of cab drivers ganging up on people who have gotten into accidents with taxis.  I have heard a lot of stuff.  But still, I am not afraid . . .

A good old-fashioned, Philly-style, butt-whooping.  That’s what this guy needed!  And I’m just the woman to do it too!  So don’t mess with me!

. . . and exhale.

me

Happy Anniversary Hon – from your little Crusher!  metu.

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17 thoughts on “Repressed Anger?? Arrogance?! Turkish Drivers and Road Rage!!

  1. Road rage in Turkey advanced for the worse over the last 15 years.
    It is not only the road rage but also the grocery store rage, the mall rage. People run into you. Noone apologizes anymore.
    I am really curious to find out why.
    Migration from the “köy” to the cites? Cities not delivering to their expectations? Poverty? Frustration?
    Is it the economy? One can’t make a decent living, takes it out on the others while driving?
    We used to be polite, hospitable…
    What happened to us? Why is everyone so angry?
    There has to be some prof. studying this!
    On the other hand, I recently found out asking “are you happy now that you upset me” works wonders.

  2. I think that is the way people learn about traffic and think that this is what they have to do when they are in the driver seat. Earlier the same day a stranger family invited us to their barbecue in the park. A completely opposite and very kind gesture.

  3. If only you had little fake police light to slowly place on the dash board when he started banging on your window or if you talked into a hand held micropohone (even if it were not connected to anything.) Now that would have been a far different and far more amusing event 🙂

  4. I would never drive in Ankara to start with. All those cars and traffic would get me upset. That Turkish man is also very lucky, that your husband has been Americanised. Round this end, starting on a man in front of his wife is considered a big insult.

  5. I can fully relate to your experience of Turkish, or rather, Ankara traffic and situations you described in the above. But I’d like to point out, to, that it is, even in this context nor ‘fair’ to generalise this for all Turkish drivers. All kinds of driving styles and skills being used on the road (or not 😉 and definitely not every single locally raised Turkish driver is a danger or annoyance on the road, the ‘polite’ drivers are definitely more rare than in some other cpountries (and agaişn pointing out: definitely also not ware of traffic aggression and incidents). A Turkish driver behaving politely and safely on the roads shouldn’t be uniquely ascribed to either ‘Americanised’, ‘Europeanised’ or similar driving skills, a lot has to do with plain common sense and indeed, most of all, respect for all those people around, and not the least in (busy) traffic.
    We had our traffic incidents, too, but it is a delight to see there are drivers that actually, and hopefully consistently, drive respectfully. It is very sad (indeed the number of accidents, deaths and injured on the roads are not to ignore or fear)that traffic in general is so crazy and undafe because of many drivers’ inpredictability, but imo this must not be generalised to just anyone on the road here.
    But I thank you to share your story with us and I am sorry this happened to you after such a special week-end, howver I am ‘glad’ that it all ended well before anything more severe could have happened. However, I surely witnessed similar in European traffic (for instance, people leaving their car in anger to go and attack another car/driver when actually the former was in the wrong!), it really happens anywhere.

    • You are certainly right. It’s not “all” Turkish drivers. But there sure are alot of them! As I was searching for a video, I came across traffic videos in Egypt. Looked like a nightmare! I must say though, it is a rarity to see the proper use of turn signals here – or to see cars move out of the way of an ambulance. I have seen it too many times . . .

      Thanks for the comment and please keep reading!

  6. I wouldn’t fancy driving in Ankara. Having said that, I do cycle (push bike) from close to the British Embassy to METU in the evenings (and back) along Cetin Emec. It gets quite ‘exciting’ at times, but to be honest, I haven’t been ‘hooted’ at that much (or given any other ‘abuse’), but I have been ‘cut up’ a few times….
    I find a beer settles the nerves afterwards ;-D

      • I shall keep an eye open… I see so few (on the roads, though loads at Eymir Golu), anyone on a bike is a novelty! Though I may miss him as I fear if I take my eye off the road and / or traffic, I’d become a statistic of the wrong variety! ;-D

  7. I just started driving here last September. I hate it! I lived in Germany before and loved going for long drives, putting the radio or cd on and just enjoying the journey. Here I’m stressed before I even get out of the parking space! Usually people park their car in front of mine and I have to hunt for them, dragging 2 3 year olds behind me. When I have finally managed to find the culprit and he/she has sauntered to his/her car looking quite annoyed that I have the audacity to bother him/her, I brace myself for the ultimate epreience: getting from a to b in Ankara!
    I find the drivers here downright dangerous. Like you mentioned, there are kids bouncing all over the car. If they do have a car seat, something else is placed there but certainly not the child it was meant for. People on their mobile telephones, putting their make up on, not indicating, nipping in and out of lanes, honking their horn because you are not running through a red light and the list is endless. I find driver’s behaviour inconsiderate, arrogant and rude. They also don’t realize that traffic will flow much better if everybody sticks to the rules. It also doesn’t help that the one way streets here are sometimes ridiculous and the traffic lights are set wrongly. I was stopped at every traffic light on Turan Günes yesterday, every single one!
    But, even although I hate driving here I need the car to get around Ankara, especially with the kids. Before I had the car it was completely impossible. Try getting into a bus or dolmus with a double buggy. Even taxi’s couldn’t fit it in the boot!

    • Hi Michele! The car seats for kids is a big pet peeve of mine! People seem very anxious with germs around their kids. They put little gloves on a new borns hands 24/7, so they don’t scratch themselves. They pin an evil eye on them so that no one steals the baby. Then they hop into a car with 6 or 7 others, don’t use car seats or seat belts, and head into traffic for 3 or 4 hours! It’s just nuts!

      • Hi Terry!
        My feelings exactly. I have been challenged by strangers in the park because they think my kids don’t have enough clothes on, but they don’t give a thought to their kids bouncing about the car! I don’t get it and I have been here for 8 years. But nowadays I’m prone to think “whatever”!

  8. Hi there.. It’s a gorgeous blog; even as a native Ankara guy, I can follow it as a guide too!
    But the reason to write here is to ask for your permission: For the website of our local magazine, may I have some quotes from this post above? I think we Turks needs the ability of ‘looking ourselves from outside’ sometimes, especially on the traffic issue.
    And is it possible to give your name and the link of your blog in our site? If not, can I have some quotes from above without giving your or blog’s name?

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