As drivers, we often encounter unsafe road conditions at one time or another, whether it is inclement weather, t-bone collisions, or just a road that is not structurally sound. But for the most part, many of our day-to-day driving is done in relatively safe conditions. That is not the case for many of those who live in remote areas without proper infrastructure.
At one time or another, most drivers encounter unsafe road conditions. Hazards can appear in many different forms; for instance, poor weather, drunk drivers, and simple human error can all complicate an otherwise uneventful journey. On the other hand, sometimes the condition of the road itself can put your life in jeopardy.
Some of the following roads appear normal, but actually have high death rates. Others just look outrageously insane. And, of course, some roads fall into both categories.
The following is a list of 15 of the most dangerous roads in the world. These roads have high death rates and are extremely dangerous. The people who live around these areas depend on these roads for their daily transportation; so consider yourself lucky.
Without further ado, we present to you the list of 15 of the world’s most dangerous roads:
1. North Yungas Road in Bolivia
Also known as “the Death Road,” the North Yungas Road is located in the Yungas region in Bolivia. It is about 40 miles long and stretches from La Paz to Corico. According to the Inter-American Development Bank, this is the “world’s most dangerous road.” There has been an estimation of 200 to 300 people that have died driving on this road.
This road is amongst the few that connect northern Bolivia to the Amazon rainforest region. The road consists of a single lane that is no more than 10 feet with no guard rails. There are extreme drop-offs that make the drive very dangerous, especially having no railings to stop you from falling. The weather contributes to making the drive very dangerous. Fog, dust and rain can reduce visibility. In 2006, construction was done to this road; bridges, drainage, rails, and multiple lanes with pavement have been put in to make it safer for drivers to travel.
2. Guoliang Tunnel Road in China
This road is located in the Taihang Mountains inside the Hunan Province of China. The small village of Guoliang sits on the mountaintop, far away from modern civilization. In the past the only way to reach this village was by walking through the valley surrounded by many steep cliffs. However, the Chinese government decided to invest money into making a drivable road into the region.
This mountain road was built by local villagers in 1972 and took 5 years to finish. On May 1, 1977 the tunnel was opened to traffic. This long tunnel is almost a mile long, 16 feet tall, and 13 feet wide. This tunnel has become a popular tourist attraction in China as it has many windows looking out over the valley. However, Guoliang tunnel is especially dangerous to drive on during the rainy seasons.
3. Halsema Highway in Philippines
This highway is the highest highway in the Philippines in terms of altitude. The Halsema Highway is 150 miles long and connects the Baguio and Benguet provinces to Northern Luzon. Landslides, mud slides, and falling rocks are common along this road. Bus drivers travel at high speeds on these narrow roads, making it very dangerous for smaller vehicles.
A majority of the roads are unpaved with many steep drop offs, some more than 1,000 feet. The lack of safety rails to protect drivers at high altitudes is one of the big reasons this highway is considered one of the most dangerous highways in the world. During the rainy seasons, it is almost impossible to drive along this highway because of the frequency of landslides.
4. Karakoram Highway, Pakistan
Named the “Friendship Highway” by the governments who built it. The Karakoram Highway is the highest paved international road in the world. It connects China and Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range, through the Khunjerab Pass, at an elevation of 4,693 metres. It’s prone to landslides and floods and to make matters worse, the road is unpaved in Pakistan. But it is still a tourist attraction, passing through some spectacular gorges along the old Silk Road.
5. James Dalton Highway, Alaska
The Dalton Highway is a 667 km road in Alaska. It begins at the Elliott Highway, north of Fairbanks, and ends at Deadhorse near the Arctic Ocean and the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. Although appearing serene at first glance, is filled with potholes, small flying rocks carried by fast winds, and worst of all it runs through the middle of nowhere. Once you run out of gas without anything else to spare, you are on your own!
6. Jalalabad–Kabul Road, Afghanistan
Many roads have been dubbed “most dangerous,” but the 65-kilometer stretch of highway from Jalalabad to Kabul has more claim than most, snaking through Taliban territory. But it’s not the threat of insurgency that makes Highway so dangerous. It’s a combination of the narrow, winding lanes that climb up to 600 meters through the Kabul gorge and the reckless Afghan drivers trying to overtake the heavily-burdened haulage trucks.
7.The Stelvio Pass, Italy
The highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps –and the second highest in the Alps, after the Col de l’Iseran (2770 m)–, the Stelvio Pass Road connects the Valtellina with the upper Adige valley and Merano. It is located in the Italian Alps, near Bormio and Sulden, 75 km from Bolzano, close to Swiss border.
While it might not be as risky as other deadly routes, it’s certainly breathtaking. The tour books advise that the toughest and most spectacular climbing is from the Prato side, Bormio side approach is more tame. With 48 hairpins, this road is regarded as one of the finest continuous hairpin routes in the Alps.
8. Los Caracoles Pass, Chile
This road passes through mountain Andreas between Chile and Argentina.The road has many steep slopes and sharp turns without fences security. The road is snow-covered almost all the year. Snow together with the complex natural landscape requires extreme patience and driving skill to drive in emergency situations. However, this road is maintained in working condition, which significantly reduces the number of accidents on it. Trucks and even double-decker tourist buses travel daily on this road.
9. The Trans-Siberian Highway, Russia
Stretching almost 7,000 miles from St Petersburg to Vladivostok, the Trans-Siberian Highway – much of which was built by gulag inmates – varies from pristine motorway in the west to dirt track in the east. For most of the year, conditions are excellent (if a little cold), but during the warm, wet summers, sections of the road have been transformed into an impassable quagmire. There are some excellent photos here.
10.Atlantic Ocean Road, Norway
In good weather, the five-mile stretch offers breath-taking scenery along the Scandinavian country’s western coast. But when the weather takes an ugly turn, cars are lashed by powerful wind gusts and pounded by large waves that send frigid water crashing over barricades or the rocky shore.
11. Nairobi-Nakuru Highway, Kenya
Nairobi-Nakuru Highway (officially called A104) is an asphalted highway, with a length of 159km, located in Kenya. The road is extremely dangerous as the stretch is notorious as a top spot for drunk drivers, and combined with speeding, poor overtaking skills, driver error, lack of traffic law enforcement and pedestrians wandering into the road. This is one dangerous road and place to be. In one year alone, 320 people were killed on this highway alone. It was recently repaved in an effort to stem road traffic accidents (as it was pretty dangerous previously). Sadly this has not done much to stop the crashes.
12. Taroko Gorge Road, Taiwan
With blind bends, narrow roads, mountain drops and every type of transport possible vying for space, the Taroko Gorge Road is one of the most dangerous in Taiwan. Heavy typhoons and seismic activity only add to the danger that contributes to 96,611 road deaths in Taiwan every year. Not as ‘Magnificient and Splendid’ as the translated name suggests.
13.The Million Dollar Highway—Colorado, USA
Southwest Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway is, for much of its length, an idyllic, breathtakingly beautiful alpine road that connects Durango to Ouray via three 10,000-plus-foot mountain passes. But the 12 miles south of Ouray—particularly for Durango-bound drivers, who are exposed to the unprotected cliffsides—are steep, twisting and completely unforgiving of driver error. Originally hand-carved by Russian immigrant Otto Mears in the 1880s, the modern highway remains open through the slip-and-slide snowy months (pictured). As the locals say, though, you’d have to “pay me a million dollars” to drive that stretch in the snow.
14. Federal Highway 1—Mexico
The only road to link the far-flung towns and villages of Mexico’s sun-baked Baja Peninsula is this narrow, two-lane byway. Shared by freight trucks, oversized RVs and, well, almost every single vehicle on this 1,000-mile-long peninsula, it can get downright hairy, particularly where it twists through the mountains and hugs the coastline between hillsides and sea. Accidents are common and, in many places, guardrails are split open where previous drivers have missed their turns.
In mean places on this highway, it features sheer drops into the sea, winding roads and drivers with dangerous overtaking manoeuvres. This wild snake of a highway is an unpredictable nightmare for the many freight trucks, buses and cars that pass it every day. Watch out for the other drivers – in six (6) Mexican states, you don’t need to pass a test to drive a car. Good luck.
15. Luxor-al-Hurghada Road—Egypt
The 180-mile route from Egypt’s Red Sea diving resort of Hurghada to the Nile-side city of Luxor doesn’t look treacherous at all. In fact, the modern highway runs pretty straight across the flat, wide-open terrain. But topography’s not the challenge here. At night, bandits and terrorists are known to prey upon defenseless motorists, reportedly prompting those unlucky enough to be caught out after sunset to speed across the pitch-black desert with their headlights turned off. Collisions, as you can imagine, are common.