We have had a few dustings of snow in Ankara do far this year, and we are expecting more. For those of you brave enough to drive in Turkey, you may already have noticed a few differences in driving techniques from your own homeland. Expect more in the snow!
Your personal safety is what’s important! From my personal experience, this is what I can share with you about driving in the snow in Turkey:
- Snow chains are required in some areas of Turkey. I’m not sure where those areas are, but it is good to have them in the car just in case. I would assume they are required in mountainous areas.
- All-weather tires are quite expensive. Turks usually have two sets of tires. When the cold weather comes, they have the tires changed, and winter tires (kış lastiği) or snow tires (kar lastiği) put on. The main difference is the type of the rubber used. Normal rubber gets harder in colder temperatures, but the winter tires are made from a rubber mixture that will still be soft in colder days so you have a better grip. The winter tires are too soft in warm days. Therefore, they are only ideal during winter months. The design is also a little different to improve the grip on the road in winter conditions. They are not ideal for all-season use since they increase fuel consumption. The process of having the tires changed can be done at any location that sells tires. This is a very inexpensive process. This year it only cost us 30TL. (We also have extra wheels. It will cost more to change the tires if you only have one set of wheels to put them on.)
- If you don’t have room to store the extra set of tires, many of the places that sell tires also offer storage, or can advise you where to go for this service.
- Snow tires are to assist you in snow. They are not any better on ice than any other tire!
- Over the past 5 years, I have seen more and more salt trucks. However, they do not salt the roads as frequently as is done in the U.S. Side roads will likely not be plowed or salted, and if they are, it may be done after the road has turned to ice.
- Try to plan your route. Ankara has a lot of hills, a bit like San Francisco. If you are going up or down a hill, expect that there will be a car stuck on the road and blocking your way.
- Beware black ice! Black ice is when the street looks wet, but it is really ice. If the temperatures are below freezing, assume there is ice.
- Pumping brakes and steering into the skid can be misleading. To learn the proper techniques in any country, read these articles: How to Steer Out of a Skid, Driver’s Ed – Skidding, Part 2, and, Tips for Safe Driving on Snow and Ice.
- There will still be many erratic drivers on the road, so drive slowly and defensively. Be patient, give yourself extra time to get to where you need to be.
- Take public transportation if possible if you must go out. Stay home if you can.
Below are some general differences when driving in Turkey. The bottom line is that you should stay calm. Expect the worst and hope for the best! That way, you will never be surprised if something bad happens, but you will be delighted when it doesn’t!
- Turks will pass you on the left or right.
- They don’t use turn signals as much.
- They tend to use the hazard lights (flashers in rear) when parking, instead of a turn signal.
- They will flash their high beams at you when they want to pass you. It would be wise to consider moving to the next lane to let them pass because they may be coming at high speeds. They are used to cars moving out of the way, so if you don’t it could mean trouble for you.
- Be extra careful when switching lanes because of the cars passing on both sides.
- Don’t expect anyone to stay in their lane. It actually delights me when I see a car staying in their lane on a curve.
- Seat belts are not often used. Child seats are used even less frequently. Don’t be shocked when you see a car with a sign that reads, “Arabada Bebek Var” (Baby on Board) and the baby is actually sitting on the driver’s lap. Ok, go ahead and be shocked, but expect to see it.
Enjoy the winter!