During holidays the number of traffic accidents escalate in Turkey and this year’s Qurban Bayram (Eid al-Adha) holiday, which will last for nine days, might not be different. Authorities have taken a series of measures to prevent a repeat of tragedies on the roads this year.
Around the Qurban Bayram holiday, thousands of people travel to popular vacation destinations in the south and west from big cities or head to their hometowns in other parts of the country. The exodus usually begins one day before the holiday starts and recurs on the first or second day. Despite warnings, dozens of people die in accidents on the road to their destination or on their way back.
Interior Ministry issued instructions to governorates of 81 provinces, mainly to boost the presence of traffic police squads all over the country to deter drivers from violating traffic safety rules. All personnel of traffic police and gendarmerie traffic units will be on duty throughout the holiday and reinforced by personnel from other law enforcement departments. More than 210,000 security forces personnel will serve throughout the holiday to ensure compliance with safety rules such as mandatory seat belts. The ministry also runs an awareness campaign on TVs, billboards on main roads and social media websites, and conventional media, with the slogan "have a holiday with seat belts on."
Traffic crews will also inform the motorists of the risks of driving for long hours without rest. They will also inspect passenger buses which are often involved in accidents as sometimes drivers sleep behind the wheel and lose control of the vehicles. Buses will also have plainclothes police officers to inspect compliance with traffic safety rules.
Associate Professor Yücel Yüzbaşıoğlu, an emergency medicine expert from Health Sciences University, said accidents in the summer are aggravated by rising temperatures and ample sunlight, which trigger sleep in drivers. "Even if you fall asleep for a few seconds, it may be enough for you to lose control of the vehicle," he warned. Yüzbaşıoğlu told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the drivers should avoid distractions while driving, such as customizing navigator settings. "Almost 90% of accidents stem from driver's errors. Fatalities from accidents during holiday travel are sometimes four times higher than accidents at other times of the year. Yüzbaşıoğlu listed several measures for drivers before hitting the road. "You should ensure that your car is properly maintained and safety belts working. The children, in particular, should have their belts on. Belts are more protective for them. Children should not also travel in the passenger seat," he said.
Compliance with traffic safety rules is still low in the country despite repeated traffic safety campaigns. As a result, almost invariably, reckless driving is the top cause of accidents every year, ahead of other factors like drunk driving.
According to official figures, more than 1.1 million accidents occurred across Turkey in 2021. It is higher than the 2019 and 2020 figures but lower than 2018. Nevertheless, only 187,963 accidents resulted in deaths or injuries. More than 3,500 people die every day on the roads, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which declared 2021-2030 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety, with the target of preventing at least 50% of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030. WHO has said nearly 1.3 million deaths are preventable in traffic accidents yearly, describing accidents as a major cause of death globally.