Turkey's roads see 8,700 deaths a year from traffic accidents, according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) 2013 global status report on road safety Today1s Zaman reported.
The report also states that traffic accidents are the number one cause of death for those aged between 15 and 29 in Turkey. Three-fourths of the victims are male, while 50 percent are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
Excessive speed appears to be the main reason for fatal accidents on Turkey's roads. However, an average drop of 5 percent in drivers' speed would reduce the number of deadly accidents by 30 percent, the report says.
The Turkish government and the WHO recently launched a campaign against speeding on Turkey's roads, using the tagline "Think about the consequences, lower your speed." The campaign aims to decrease the number of accidents and casualties caused by excessive speed.
The chairman of the WHO's Turkey office, Dr. Maria Cristina Profili, spoke to Today's Zaman about the campaign and the importance of speed while driving. "If the speed of a vehicle is 30 kilometers per hour or lower when it hits a pedestrian, then the pedestrian has a 90 percent chance of surviving the accident. The possibility of the individual's survival drops to below 50 percent when the car's speed reaches 45 kilometers per hour. The person has an almost 0 percent chance of survival when the speed of the vehicle is 80 kilometers per hour or more."
Profili also noted that recent research conducted in Ankara shows that more than half of vehicles break the country's urban speed limit, which is 50 kilometers per hour.
National Police Department Traffic Planning and Supporting Chamber Chairman Yilmaz Bastug, speaking to Today's Zaman, stated that 385,000 people have died due to car crashes in Turkey in the last 30 years. According to Bastug, 34 percent of traffic accidents in Turkey are caused by high speed, making this the single greatest cause of accidents.
Bastug points out that seat belts are the most important protection against accidents caused by speed. Speaking about campaigns in Amasya and Afyonkarahisar to promote the use of seat belts, Bastug explained that seat belt use in Amasya increased to 70 percent from 9 percent in one year, while deadly accidents correspondingly decreased by 52 percent. In Afyonkarahisar, seat belt use swelled to 60 percent from 7 percent, and traffic accidents resulting in fatal injuries shrank to 35 percent.
Another traffic safety campaign from the Turkish traffic police relates to television programs. Bastug stated that traffic officers have watched 2,500 episodes of television series this year and subsequently warned production companies about any scenes of dangerous driving. According to Bastug, obedience to traffic rules on television increased from 5 percent to 80 percent after the warnings.