This post is definitely not for the faint-hearted because we are about to discus some of the scariest yet deadliest roads in the world that are responsible for high accident and death rates. Locals are on the mercy of these roads for their routine transportation needs. So, you must be feeling lucky because your daily bread doesn’t depend upon these highways.
Every year, around 1.3 million deaths are due to road accidents. A Declare of Action for Road Safety 2011-2021 has been announced by the World Health Organization. Though most of such deaths could be escaped with better driving skills, there are still some roads made to test your courage, driving skills and experience as a driver.
10. Stelvio Pass, Italy
Located at the altitude of 9045 ft. in Italy, the Stelvio Pass is the highest mountain pass positioned in Eastern Alps and second highest pass in Alps, little below 9088 ft. Col de I’Iseran. Some of the roads look even more dangerous than they actually are. It has more hairpins as compared to Helena Bonham Carter and it seems like a scribble of a child over the hills. The pass climbs over 2 km with a lower concrete barrier between the driver and sheer mountain drop. So, better off if you skip looking down. On one of the 60 to 180 degree corners, little much speed could cause disaster.
9. Sichuan-Tibet Highway, China
Number of deaths in china due to car accidents has almost doubled over the past two decades, i.e. from 3.9 to 7.6 per 100,000 people from 1985 to 2005. The high elevation Sichuan-Tibet Highway is no exception. Connecting Chengdu to Tibet, this road often witnesses rock avalanches and landslides. This 2412 km long highway starts on the east from Chengdu, Sichuan and finishes on the west at Lhasa, Tibet. The highway passes through Garze, Ya’an and Chamdo as it stretches into Lhasa. It traverses fourteen 4000-5000m high mountains, spanning lots of popular rivers (including Jinsha, Nujiang, Dadu and Lantsang Rivers). The highway crosses several threatening sections and primeval forest. It gives breathtaking views along the line.
8. Los Caracoles Pass, Chile
The road crosses through Andreas Mountain from Chile to Argentina. It has a lot of sharp turns and steep slopes without having any fencing security. The road is almost snow-capped all the year round. Due to complex landscape and snow, you need a lot of driving skill and patience to drive here in emergency situations. However, authorities maintain this road and keep it excellent condition to reduce the number of accidents. Double-decker tourist buses and trucks also travel here on daily basis.
7. Zoji La Pass, India
Located between Leh and Srinagar on National Highway 1D, Zoji Pass is the high mountain pass in the country. It serves as a prominent link between Kashmir and Ladakh. It is located around 3528 meters above the sea level. After Fotu La, Zoji La is the second highest mountain pass in India. In winter months, it remains closed. But it serves as a lifeline to keep Ladakh close to the rest of the world.
6. Skippers Canyon Pass, New Zealand
Running in New Zealand, Skippers Canyon Road is truly very bone-chilling as it is made of very steep cut in the center of cliff face. It is a winding highway where you need a special permit to drive. If you have a permission to drive through, brace yourself, because slippery road is on your way where you drive only on the mercy of your luck. Wish someone is not coming from opposite direction.
5. Karakoram Highway, Pakistan
The concerning government authorities named it ‘The Friendship Highway’. It is world’s highest paved international highway, connecting Pakistan to China through the Karakoram ranges, via Kunjerab Pass, at the altitude of 4693 meters. It is vulnerable to floods and landslides all the year round. Even worse, the road is not paved on Pakistan side. But it still passes through some of the striking gorges on the old Silk Road and is the ideal tourist destination.
4. Guoliang Tunnel Road, China
Carved through the mountain and along the hilly sides in China, the Guoliang Tunnel Pass is one of its kinds in the world. This highway was hollowed off the sides by the villagers from Guoliang. Before this mountain pass, the surrounding cliffs had almost separated the locals from the rest of civilization. Its construction makes it virtually dangerous and it doesn’t have much traffic.
3. James Dalton Highway, Alaska
The 414-mile gravel James Dalton Highway connects Livengood from Elliott Highway to the north and the farthest north of Alaska through the arctic tundra. The 360-mile haul road is built and now called as Dalton Highway which connects Yukon River to Prudhoe Bay to supply the oil on North Slope. It was built for $150 million. The pipeline bridge is the only span across Yukon River which flows through 1875 miles in Alaska. It is definitely not the highway for the faint-hearted or those who just bought a new vehicle. It is still a major route to supply oil for the Prudhoe Bay oilfields. There are chances that you will be adjusting with giant tractor-trailers. Here flying rocks commonly hit the headlights and windshields. Even rental companies refuse to drive on the Dalton. Running trucks kick up the dense fog of mud and dust along the slippery gravel due to which visibility is almost zero. Unless you have CB radio, 4-wheel drive, food, extra fuel, tires and truck with a lot of supplies, don’t dare to drive there, because repairs are almost unavailable.
2. Jalalabad-Kabul Road, Afghanistan
Several roads have been classified “world’s deadliest” but this 65km long stretch connecting from Jalalabad to Kabul has been proved to be the most dangerous, through the Taliban territory. Well this highway is dangerous not because of insurgency threat. It has steep winding lanes which are 600 metres high over the Kabul gorge. The wicked Afghan drivers overtaking the heavy-duty trucks make it even more dangerous.
1. North Yongas Road, Bolivia
The Death Road itself, North Yungas Road is stretched from 61 to 69 km, from La Paz to Bolivia’s capital city, Coroico (Amazon region). It is well known to be very dangerous road. It is known as the world’s most dangerous road by the Inter-American Development Bank, in 1995. This road is estimated to kill over 200 to 300 travelers every year. It has crosses where vehicles have fallen. After 20 years, a new La Paz to Coroico bypass has been opened by the end of 2006. It has several lanes, modern construction (drainage, bridges etc), guardrails, pavements, and other elements to make it safer.