Dangerous roads claim the lives of many people every year. It makes you wonder, what is it about the most beautiful, remote, and deadly places on earth that make people from every race and culture go, “We can travel there. Frequently.
Let’s build a road!” It seems like some of the most dangerous places on earth are also some of the most beautiful. Yet sometimes, these deadly roads are just boring highways a few miles away that are deadly because of frequent human error. However they got their reputation, here are 25 of the most dangerous roads on earth.
Paso de los Libertadores - Chile
There are over 40 border crossings between Chile and Argentina in the Andes mountains, and Paso de los Libertadores is arguably the most important one, as well as being one of the most scenic and dangerous drives in the world, sitting at around 10,000 ft above sea level. There’s usually snow, and no, there are no guardrails. Why would their be guardrails?
Captain Cook Highway - Australia
Captain Cook Highway is a scenic coastal road along Queensland, Australia. There are also over 100 crashes on this road, every year. Statistics show that over 90% are the fault of locals, which is a nice way of saying that the people who live there are literally killing themselves with poor driving habits. Don’t tailgate guys. Anywhere.
I-26 - South Carolina, US
In the first ten years of the new millennium, this stretch of road in South Carolina claimed 325 lives in 286 accidents. That’s an average of over two per month and more than one life lost per accident. Dangerous road? You bet! The highway has deep ditches on either side and very few guard rails. Data shows that I-26 has double the death rate of other, busier highways nearby.
The Atlantic Road - Norway
Like several dangerous roads on this list, The Atlantic Road is breathtakingly beautiful but dangerous. Five miles of road built across small islands, the road is often buffeted by strong winds and rain yet remains a huge tourist attraction. The road is constantly sprayed by waves, making hydroplaning a serious concern. Hydroplaning less than 100 feet above what is likely to be the freezing Atlantic Ocean. Exciting times.
Eshima Ohashi Bridge - Japan
This bridge is known as the “Roller Coaster” bridge due to it’s steep incline, which was built to allow fishing boats to go under it. It is the third largest rigid frame bridge in the world. Wheee!
Trollstigen - Norway
Trollstigen (or Troll’s Ladder) is a narrow mountain road in Norway with a 9% gradient, 11 hairpin turns, fog, poor traction, and limited visibility during rain. Local government has attempted to widen this dangerous road where possible, but there are many places where that’s impossible because, you know…mountain.
Passage Du Gois - France
This bridge goes underwater with the tide, so if you don’t time your crossing correctly, things will go poorly for you. Even when it’s not underwater, the Passage Du Gois is always wet, and littered with slippery seaweed and other random things from the ocean. This is why most people build tunnels or bridges. All that said…it’s kinda cool. But I’m not driving on it. Ever.
Luxor-al-Hurghada Road - Egypt
Luxor-al-Hurghada is 299 miles through the blistering heat of the Egyptian desert, with legit bandits. Yes, bandits. So if you break down, you’re in the middle of nowhere, cooking in your own juices, and then…bandits (or disgruntled local militia men, whatever). Some people drive very fast (even at night) along the mostly unlit road (sometimes without their headlights!) to avoid the bad guys, and it often ends about how you’d imagine. Did we mention legit, real, not in a movie, bandits?
Kuandinsky bridge over Vitim River - Sibera
This bridge is wide enough for only one car, made of rotting wood and rusting metal (because it snows ALL THE TIME), and has no safety rails. Because it snows all the time, it’s always slippery. Yet people cross this bridge every day. Not sure if they win a prize for bravery or are simply disregarding with their own mortality. (Image used with permission from Blog From Russia)
Eyre Highway - Australia
Eyre Highway is the definition of a long, lonely road. It looks kind of like Mad Max meets wombats, but it’s so long and desolate that many drivers fall asleep, leading to a high number of accidents and fatalities. If it were in the US, there’d be a Wawa and billboards to give you something to look forward to, but instead…this road literally bores people to death.
Highway 2 - Montana, US
Montana has one of the highest highway fatality rates in the US, largely due to the fact that everything is so very, very far away. Ambulances take forever to get to an accident. To that end, Highway 2 in Montana is one of the most dangerous roads in the United States. Ambulances sometimes take up to 80 minutes to get accident victims to a hospital and cell reception is spotty. Hwy 2 crosses the most remote part of the state, and lack of traffic also means that drivers tend to go much, much faster.
Karakoram Highway - Pakistan
The Karakoram Highway (or KKH) is the highest international paved road in the world, connecting Pakistan and Western China. Running through the Himalayas, this used to be a branch of the famed Silk Road trade route. It contains the highest border crossing in the world, at around 16,000 feet, so for some of us, driving on this road would just mean passing out before we started. In some places, the road is only paved on one side. It’s not one lane, it’s just that only one lane is paved. There’s also the usual mountain road joys – rock slides, deep ravines on one side should you fall, probably some sort of dragon, lacking guard rails in places, etc.
Karnali Highway - Nepal
Karnali Highway claims at least 50 lives per year. Winding along the Himalayas in West Nepal, the Karnali Highway attracts thrill seeking cyclists from all over the world to take in the amazing views and a challenging ride. It’s still a trade route, and the dirt (or is it just mud?) road is often so bad that for many, the vehicle of choice is a tractor. However, many people don’t have a tractor, so old, halfway broken down cars and basically no safety rules just add to the..uh..thrill. (Image used with permission from pikesonbikes.com)
I-95 - East Coast, US
Interstate 95 runs from Florida to Maine on the East Coast of the United States, making it a pretty well known and frequently traveled road. In Florida, though, there are more accidents along I-95 than in any other state. From the FL/GA line to Flagler County (which is about an hour north of Disney), between April of 2014 and April of 2015, there were over 1,713 accidents, over 500 injuries and 25 deaths. That’s not even reaching the middle of the state yet. Speeding, new road patterns, and distracted driving are the main reasons for these accidents. So again, a lot of human error.
BR 319 - Brazil
BR – 319 runs through the Amazon, so temper your expectations for smooth driving. The 500 miles of sort-of-paved “Highway” through the rainforest is the victim of poor workmanship, as well as being a highway in the rainforest. Some of the road has just crumbled and washed away, and bridges regularly have to deal with rot and breakage. (Though in defense of whomever keeps up the roads, those bridges are often replaced. They may be fighting a losing battle with Mother Nature, bless them.)
Zoji La - India
What is it about dangerous mountains that makes humans say, “Hey! We should build a road there..sort of.” The Zoji La connects Ladakh and Kashmir, is 11,500 feet above sea level and littered with buses and carts that have overturned, met their doom, and been left to rust. It’s very narrow, there are no guard rails, and the road is generally either muddy or icy if not both. And it’s used by trucks, buses, cars, and cattle. There are dozens of deaths and rescues every year.
Highway 99 - California, US
This is a popular road that millions of people drive on daily. It’s well maintained, it’s not cut into the side of a mountain, and cattle don’t randomly wander onto the road. So what’s most likely to kill you? Probably other people. It also has fog, short on-ramps (who builds those, seriously?), is one of the “darkest” (as in lacking adequate night lighting), and has a very high incidence of speeding and drunk driving. Highway 99 has an average of over 60 fatal accidents per 100 miles, and a large portion of them are due to easily avoidable human error – not paying attention, speeding, drunk driving, and improper merging. Now THAT’S terrifying.
Uyuni Salt Flats - Bolivia
This isn’t really a road, as much as a general lack of road, but it’s something lots of people drive across, so we’re going to allow it. Sitting at nearly 12,000 feet above see level, with wet, slushy, salty, uh…everything…it’s kind of difficult for most machines (and cars are machines, for sure) or people to operate. It’s just a vast, beautiful expanse, with nothing to help you orient yourself to your location, nothing to assist you should trouble arise, and no cell phone signal. It also gets cold at night. Really cold, as in -30 Celsius (-22 F) cold. There ARE bus tours and the like should you choose to see this beautiful part of the world, so adventure on! Just please, don’t go alone.
Revelstoke to Golden / Highway 1 - Canada
This highway saw the most deadly accidents in BC – 38 – between 2004 and 2013, making it the most deadly stretch of road in Canada. Why? Extreme weather conditions like snow and ice, and it’s only a two lane highway for the most part. According to a local towing company owner, “It’s a very unforgiving stretch of highway that really has zero tolerance.” And even if you’re paying attention and doing everything a good driver should, there’s no accounting for slippery conditions on a two lane road. Sometimes you spin out and sad things happen. Improvements are, however, in the works.
Pasubio - Italy
This road travels along such breathtaking scenery that sometimes people have gotten distracted and crashed. It’s so dangerous that Italy has decided to reserve parts of the road for walking only; however, biking is strictly prohibited due to the number of horrific deaths. It’s also known as the road of 52 tunnels (for the obvious reason), so if you’re at all claustrophobic, it’s probably the most terrifying road you can imagine. It’s like whatever or whoever made us, made all these amazing places, and then dared us to possibly die trying to see them.
Mount Vojak - Croatia
This road doesn’t mess around. There’s actually a sign that says, “Past this point, you go at your own risk.” It’s a road to the summit of Mount Vojak, and there’s a stone tower at the top built by mountain climbers in the early 1900’s. At some points, the ascent is 28.3%. Walking or hiking is recommended. I mean…they put up a sign and everything…
Keylong-Kishtwar Road - India
Keylong-Kishtwar Road is a crude, unpaved road with no safety features whatsoever cut into the side of a mountain. It may be more of a “trail” than an actual road, but we’re not sure how they define these things. Either way, it’s narrow and in bad condition. In many parts, the cliff above hangs over your head, and the sheer drop can cause vertigo if you look at it. Or remember it’s there. Image by Paul Ramsden.
Piste de Jaffar - Morocco
Cirque de Jaffar is a natural cirque (steep-sided hollow at the head of a valley or on a mountainside, formed by glacial erosion) and the road leading to it, Piste de Jaffar, is not for the faint of heart. This is another dangerous, sometimes poorly maintained (how do you maintain mountain roads? It’s a long, slow fight with a mountain) road that people gladly drive on, seeking out amazing views. If you go, hire an experienced driver who’s driven the road before. Photo by: Tore Kjeilen via LookLex
Trampolín del Diablo - Colombia
The name of this road is literally “The Devil’s Trampoline.” The road grows increasingly narrower the higher you go, with blind turns and two-way traffic. It’s frequently used by everyone from small cars to buses, and there’s fog and steep drop-offs to contend with. The payoff at the end is a charming town called La Laguna de la Cocha.
Bayburt Of Yolu-/D915 - Turkey
One side of this road is a mountain, one side is a drop hundreds of feet to your death, and nope, guardrails are not a thing here, but random rock slides and avalanches are. That seems to be the standard formula for terror of a mountain road, but this one includes 29 steep hairpin turns, a distinct lack of pavement, and portions where it’s so narrow that you can barely fit two cars (So if you’re in a truck..oops?), and it’s altitude – over 6,000 feet above sea level – means that snow can happen close to the road at anytime. This is a working road, meaning that locals use it frequently with every kind of transportation imaginable. D915 has been named more dangerous than Bolivia’s “Death Road.” Photo by Yusuf ipekçi
Other Photo credits: 24. Bahnfrend via wikimedia commons, 21. mstk east via flickr, 20. Max Pixel, 19. Florian Pépellin via wikimedia commons, 18. Przemyslaw “Blueshade” Idzkiewicz via wikimedia commons, 16. Nachoman-au via wikimedia commons, 15. Martina Nolte / , 14. Suleman.Akbar.ali via wikimedia commons, 12. JamieS93 via wikimedia commons, 11. Agencia CNT de Noticias via flickr, 9. Doug Kerr via flickr, 8. Yellow531 via wikimedia commons, 6. Beren023 via wikimedia commons, 2. SauerkrautTofuwurst via youtube (photo used with permission)