Autonomous vehicles law and regulation in Turkey

1. Is the testing of AVs (SAE Levels 3-5) permitted on public roads in your jurisdiction?

At present there is no regulation regarding autonomous vehicles in Turkey.

Under the Law on Highway Traffic (the "Law"), drivers of vehicles temporarily used on public roads (e.g. for test driving purposes) must obtain a temporary registration certificate and temporary registration plate. According to the Regulation on Highway Traffic, a type approval (tip onayı) must be presented to obtain a temporary registration plate. Acquiring the type approval and procedures for its acquisition must be in accordance with the Regulation on the Type Approval of Motor Vehicles and their Trailers. 

If the company cannot obtain a type approval, it is possible to obtain approval from the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology.

In 2019, there was news regarding the test of AVs by AVL Turkey, an international engineering company. According to the news, the company will begin test driving in 2020. However, there are no current developments for test driving.

2. Are consumers permitted to use AVs (SAE Levels 3-5) on public roads in your jurisdiction?

According to the Law, drivers must obtain a registration certificate and a registration plate in order to use their vehicle on public roads. The General Directorate for Safety carries out the registration of vehicles.

It is important to note that according to the Law, vehicles driven by a person who has not obtained a driving license may not be used on public roads. Therefore, even if the driver uses an AV, he still must comply with the rules determined by the Law and should have a driving license.

However, under Turkish law, there is not yet specific authorisation for the use of AVs on public roads.
A more specific regulation concerning the use of AVs that gives a more precise answer to this question should come later.

3. Who has liability for damages caused by a car in automated driving mode?

The Law defines a person who drives a motor vehicle on a road as a "driver". The owner of the car or a person who rents the car for a long period of time is defined as an “operator”. 

As per Article 85 of the Law, the operator and the driver are jointly and severally liable for any accident that occurs during the operation of motor vehicles. The liability regulated in this article is a strict liability that does not attribute fault.

Accordingly, in the absence of any relevant precedents in this respect and given the fact that there is no specific regulation for autonomous vehicles in Turkey (in line with the currently applicable legislation), both the driver and the operator would be held jointly and severally liable for damages caused by a car in automated driving mode.

The scope of this Law does not cover the manufacturer. Therefore, the liability of the manufacturer can only be assessed under the general liability regime of Turkish law. The liability of the producer companies is assessed within the scope of the Turkish Code of Obligations and the Consumer Protection Law.

If the manufacturing company sells the vehicle to a consumer that has a defect the consumer discovered as a result of an accident, the company as the seller is liable for the damages caused by the accident. If damage was caused by a defect in the vehicle, the manufacturing company may also be held liable under the Consumer Protection Law. According to this law, the consumer can request a free repair of the vehicle or demand a replacement of the vehicle.

Also, criminal liability in case of accidents caused by AVs is not specifically regulated in Turkish law so far. Under Turkish criminal law, criminal liability of legal persons is not possible, only the liability of natural persons is accepted by Turkish criminal law. Therefore, manufacturers as legal persons are not criminally liable in case of accidents. However, the programmers of the AVs, drivers and users of the vehicles may possibly be held criminally liable if they negligently or intentionally commit criminal offences (taksirli suç ve kasti suç). The levels of the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) would also possibly be decisive in defining liability. For AVs at SAE levels 3-5, the instability of manufacturers and programmers will be assessed. However, with AVs at SAE levels 1-3, the possibility of driver liability will increase.

4. Are there any specific mandatory insurance requirements for AVs?

No. There are no specific mandatory insurance requirements for AVs.

However, according to the Law, the operators must obtain compulsory traffic insurance.

5. Is there general liability based on warranty claims against the manufacturer for AVs?

Turkish warranty law does not contain any special regulations for warranty claims in connection with AVs.

Therefore, the general principles of the Turkish Code of Obligations regarding warranty claims would apply.

Furthermore, according to the Consumer Protection Law, manufacturers and importers of vehicles are obliged to issue guarantee certificates to consumers.

Accordingly, in case of a defective vehicle, the consumer is entitled to exercise his right to have the vehicle repaired by the manufacturer, whereby the manufacturer is obliged to repair the vehicle under a guarantee certificate. Provided that the manufacturer refuses the consumer's claims, the seller, the manufacturer and the importer would be held jointly and severally liable.

Portrait of Döne Yalçın
Döne Yalçın
Managing Partner Turkey