The "traffic monstrosity" as it is dubbed by the Turkish media, has been a long-standing sad reality of Turkey, which loses hundreds of lives to traffic accidents every year. The country lost 29 people over the last three days in separate bus accidents in the first week of this month. Now, figures between January and July show 1,242 people were killed across the country in accidents.
The majority of accidents are a result of reckless driving. Most others stemmed from the fault of pedestrians. Some 37,631 accidents took place due to drivers violating speed limits, overtaking other vehicles in dangerous spots and violating rules on changing lanes.
Figures supplied by the Traffic Department of the Turkish police show 217,462 accidents took place in Turkey in the first seven months of 2021. The accidents also injured 139,448 people. In July alone, 297 people died in 43,166 accidents, which also injured more than 34,000 people.
The highest number of traffic deaths this year was in the southern province of Antalya, with 75 deaths since January. It was followed by the central province of Konya with 66. In Istanbul, the country’s most crowded city with more than 15 million people, 51 died in accidents between January and July.
Earlier this year, the country rolled out a new action plan and strategy for road safety. Turkey was one of the signatories of the United Nations’ global road safety improvement plan in 2010. The next year, it implemented a strategic plan for road safety and gradually updated it. Authorities credit new measures, such as speed limits for the drop in accidents and fatalities.
Fatalities per population of 100,000 people dropped to 5.9 in 2021, from 13.4 in 2010. Construction of divided roads ensuring vehicle safety against those attempting to overtake other vehicles and improved road infrastructure are also credited for decreasing the number of accidents and fatalities.
Turkey plans to boost traffic inspections and redesigning "black spot" roads where the majority of accidents take place as part of its strategy to decrease accidents. An awareness campaign to educate the public about dangers on the road is also underway.
The Interior Ministry also holds events to highlight the "pedestrian first" rules on streets, something conveniently ignored by reckless drivers who do not bother to slow down at pedestrian crossings.