The Highway Code!
My advice to anyone visiting Istanbul is not to drive yourself - unless you are used to the traffic here. I would not say that the drivers here are dangerous, but there is a huge traffic problem. Even where there are lane lines painted on the highway, drivers will begin to make additional lanes between other lines of slow-moving traffic. Taxis and mini buses tend to pull out from side roads in front of the main traffic flow, and also suddenly pull across in front of moving traffic in order to set down or pick up passengers. This causes vehicles in that lane to stop suddenly, and that traffic merely pulls out into the outside lane, in front of the moving traffic! The rule of the road is that traffic entering from the right usually has priority. The second rule is that he who sounds his car horn loudest and longest has the right of way (lol). I have to say that I quickly became accustomed to the way of driving, and although I might say it was usually erratic, I don't think driving conditions are actually dangerous - unless you are driving as a tourist!
I have lived in Istanbul for over 18 months and I have to say, Istanbul drivers have no respect for other road users, so be most careful as a pedestrian. They think nothing of jumping lights, using cell phones while driving, having children balanced in their laps while driving(!) - I even saw a guy letting his kid drive while sitting on his lap!
The easiest way I find to drive is to get over to the left hand lane as soon as possible (as bad as that might be considered in the UK); that way, you only have to worry about vehicles 'squeezing' you from the right! You should also be well away from the right hand lane where the buses and dolmuses (small mini-bus type buses) lurk; they think they own the roads. Most drivers will not allow you to join their lane and you have to be quite aggressive to nudge in. If there is a blockage in one lane, the drivers will automatically move over to get round it (unlike most European cities where they will slow down/stop and wait until it is safe to pull around the obstruction.) The 'Turkish squeeze' will happily push you into another lane or into the central reservation unless you make judicious use of the horn. Watch also for the 'Turkey Roll' whereby they will roll back on a hill when setting off; it can come as a shock.
Overall, be very careful; stay alert because even when you think you've seen it all, someone will pull a new trick (wrong way round a roundabout because it's quicker, for example). Drivers are not good drivers, though they seem to think they have some sort of genetic aptitude and the roads are not in good condition.
Driving in Istanbul is NOT for the faint-hearted!
If you drive in Turkey, know that they are not the safest drivers in the world. You hear about many places with bad driving, but Turkey is, in my mind and having driven in many of those places, one of the worst.
Especially in Istanbul there's naturally a lot of traffic. And maybe the driving is more impatient than anything else. Be prepared for those behind you to lay on the horn before the light turns green. Keep an eye out all around and keep up.
Once you get a bit used to it, it isn't so bad. If you can go with the flow, you'll be fine.
Bigger has the right of way. We lost a side mirror to a roadsign learning that lesson. Fortunately I could speak enough Turkish to get a new mirror installed before we returned the car.
it is good if you take it easy when you walk and when you are a pedestrian in Istanbul. All drivers dont stop for even if the sign says they must, so be careful. And if you drive your own car, just take it easy!!!!
traffic likes a natural disaster at the beginning and close of business..so dont try to go bebek from taksim at 6p.m. cause you cant reach the destination for hours..(for example i want to die when i have to go to the other side of city at the cursed hours:)) so time wasting is inevitable if wrong hours are chosen..
you can take tram or subway if the line is available, and must try sea route if u change the continent:)
Take into consideration that a car trip can take up to 2 hours (normally) to go from one site to another within Istanbul (specially from the Asian side to the European side and between 8:30 am to 10 am and 5:30 pm until 7:30 pm).
I've been in Beijing after Istanbul and belive me, drivers in Istanbul are pretty ok.
Taxi drivers are safe, they won't drink while working, even if you think that they drive crazy, they know what they are doing. When you take a taxi in Istanbul for the first time, seat in the back, couse first drive can be wierd. I've never seen car crash on Istanbul streets.
And it's really cheap.
Before crossing any street, please take a good look around. There are quite a lot crazy drivers here! Just be carefull!
Traffic seems to be never ending, so be careful even at crossings. I found Sunday morning the quietest. Down at Eminono always use the foot bridge over the road.