In Turkey, Traffic Accidents Claim Many More Lives Than Terrorists

Article Summary
With the deaths of 13 soldiers killed on Turkey’s roads in the past week, Cuneyt Ozdemir argues that highway fatalities would get far greater public and government action if if they were caused by terrorists. So he imagines the Traffic Terror Organization, or TTO, which has killed far more people than the much-maligned Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).

While we are struggling with a superficial agenda, we never find the opportunity to discuss the epidemic of traffic accidents. We pay the price of these accidents with our lives. While nine soldiers were martyred last week, the Traffic Terror Organization [TTO] was on duty. This time it chose 34 individuals as targets. Among them, 13 were military personnel.

The TTO is busier this year. For years it has been killing civilians at will, and this year it added military victims. Given that there is no awareness of this issue, it is no coincidence that the number of its victims increase every year. As you know, the TTO's operations mainly concentrate on intercity roads. The erstwhile terrorists belonging to this organization don't even get punished. The crimes of these culprits are later pardoned due to legal practices. The members of the organization who were detained are later released by its sympathizers within the bureaucracy.

Under normal circumstances, should you murder a person with a weapon, you would spend your entire life in prison. However, thanks to our laws and the supporters of this terrorist organization, members of the TTO are released from the police stations without getting arrested.

The state remains indifferent to the activities of this organization though the heinous scheme of this organization is well-known. If we ever decide to combat this insidious organization we have to properly identify [its crimes], which I do so here:

TTO operations are bloodier than the those of the (Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), dubbed a terrorist organization by Ankara]. We are feeling sorry for the 30,000 people we lost in the last 30 years during the struggle against PKK. However, we lost 47,512 lives in just 10 years between 2001-2011 thanks to the TTO. The death toll in 2011 alone was around 4,000 people. Can you grasp the enormity of these figures? 

This country has a bigger issue than PKK terrorism and this is traffic terrorism. However, we just accept it with fatalism and go on with our lives. We don't even consider these losses as real deaths unless a terrorist organization takes credit.

How do we combat the trend? Let's ponder this rather than whining about it. We always talk about the PKK. Let us focus on the TTO for a while, instead. Rather than accusing the government or the opposition, let's discuss a few and simple solutions to this issue.

First: Education. However, we need to do more on that and go beyond cheap talk. We need to introduce courses on traffic in to school curricula. We should educate our kids from primary school on how to obey traffic laws.

Second: We need to redefine traffic rules and penalties. We should impose harsher punishments for violations of traffic rules.

Third: We need to reorganize the traffic police. Rather than limiting the jurisdiction over this issue to a single unit within the police department, we should authorize all police to deal with this issue. [Security forces] should go through the required regulations and start internal training.

Fourth: Zero Tolerance! We should implement new traffic rules for every segment of society, indiscriminately. Senior politicians and state officers can start by respecting red lights.

Fifth: We should launch a massive media campaign in which support for an initiative is given.

Believe me, even these initial steps can decrease the death-toll from thousands to hundreds. Let's start a struggle against this terror organization embedded in our daily lives. Let's kill it before it kills us. Let's start by naming it correctly.

Traffic accidents, which we perceive as a part of destiny, do not happen because of the monstrous nature of human kind. There is a terrorist organization, which feeds off ignorance and laxity and we are both the members and victims of this organization.

We lost nine young soldiers in a traffic accident but they were ignored because they didn't die fighting the PKK. The soldiers killed in the accident also had dreams and hopes like those who were martyred by the PKK. However, since they were the victims of a traffic accident, which we perceive as a natural thing in our lives, they were ignored. If they were killed by PKK bullets, they might have appeared on TV as breaking news. Yet since they were the victims of the traffic terror, we couldn't even learn their names. We couldn't even see their pictures.

Those young soldiers, like the civilians killed on the roads, had died for nothing.

I know traffic is a “boring” issue and it is not appealing to anyone. We have a weird press. We are always occupied with superficial topics, yet never find room to discuss traffic accidents whose price is paid with our own blood and lives. We never find time to discuss traffic in news rooms. We cannot find these “boring” topics in the political agenda of political parties or the discourse of political leaders, either. Can you ever recall a political leader who said he will combat traffic terror?

Found in: soldiers, security, road accidents, military, turkey, pkk, kurdish workers’ party, ankara

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