- From South America to Asia, there are busy roads that are truly terrifying.
- They include steep cliffs, rough terrain, and extreme weather conditions.
- We explore eight that should be taken by only the most fearless drivers.
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Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: Whether they’re carved into the side of steep cliffs, prone to natural disasters, or disappear in an instant, some roads can be downright terrifying. From North America to Asia, you can find highways meant for the most fearless drivers. These are eight of the world’s most dangerous roads.
India’s Zoji La is a pass in the Himalayas that ventures 11,575 feet above sea level, completely unpaved as it reaches the summit. The road has no barriers separating drivers from going over the edge of its steep vertical cliffs. Zoji La also experiences extreme weather conditions. This includes heavy snow that can be 50 to 80 feet deep. Over 60 landslides have been reported on the road. In 2018, India approved the Zoji La tunnel project. It involves the construction of an 8.5-mile tunnel under the pass, which will reduce the time to cross the Zoji La from more than three hours to just 15 minutes.
Norway is one of the safest countries to drive in, with only 20 fatal car accidents per 1 million people. However, it’s also home to one of the most dangerous passageways, the Atlantic Ocean Road. The area is prone to major sea storms, meaning the bridges along the road become hazardous for drivers. During inclement weather, massive waves regularly sweep over the pavement, accompanied by powerful gusts of wind. Careless driving can be a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, there are few serious accidents on record because of precautions taken by local drivers and authorities when storms hit. Still, footage shows just how many close calls drivers have encountered and why this is a road trip best saved for a sunny day.
Stretching 414 miles through the most barren parts of Alaska is the James Dalton Highway. Ending just a few miles short of the Arctic Ocean, it’s one of the only roads for getting supplies to some of the northernmost parts of Alaska. The Dalton is no ordinary highway, though. As drivers travel north, they become more and more isolated from civilization. For a full 240-mile stretch, you won’t find gas stations, rest stops, or even cellphone coverage. Travelers must be prepared with emergency supplies and survival gear. A simple breakdown could leave you stranded for days. The extreme Arctic weather creates limited visibility, icy roads, and enormous potholes. In some parts, the temperature can drop to as little as minus 80 degrees at night. This doesn’t help when the road itself is 75% mud and gravel. This highway is best saved for only those whose job requires using it.
The 800-mile Karakoram Highway is a mountainous road that connects Pakistan to China. But the world’s highest paved international highway is also one of the most dangerous. The uppermost section in Pakistan climbs 15,397 feet above sea level but lacks any guardrails and is only wide enough for one car to fit through. Besides the hairpin turns that overlook steep mountain cliffs, it’s the weather that may be Karakoram’s most dangerous factor. The highway is regularly hit with heavy snowfall and monsoons that lead to flooding, landslides, and rockfall. Fatal accidents are not uncommon. Fortunately, as part of the $46 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor project, reconstruction of the highway’s Pakistani portion is underway.
Known worldwide as “Death Road,” Bolivia’s 43-mile Yungas Road connects the country’s capital city, La Paz, to the town of Coroico. Carved into the side of the Cordillera Oriental mountains, it features few guardrails to keep motorists and cyclists from going straight over the edge. Most of the road is a single lane and made up of dirt and gravel. Its most dangerous features include heavy rain and fog, unpredictable landslides, and cliffs that drop 2,000 feet. Until 2006, Yungas Road was the only option for traveling from Coroico to La Paz. That trip is estimated to have claimed 200 to 300 lives a year. Still, many locals and daredevil tourists make the journey along Death Road regularly.
The Passage du Gois isn’t just dangerous, it’s a natural phenomenon. The 3-mile road connects mainland France to the island of Noirmoutier. Due to high tides, it disappears under the ocean twice a day, completely covered by waves. With that length, if you’re caught in the floods, you might not reach dry land before you’re chest-deep in water. These hazards are why France has signs that let people know when the road is passable. Elevated rescue towers are even put in place, and tourists are advised not to use the road unless absolutely necessary.
Winding through the Andes Mountains is Chile’s Caracoles Pass, which translates to “Snail’s Pass.” It gains its name from the dizzying 29 hairpin turns that climb to an elevation of 10,500 feet above sea level, right at the Chilean-Argentinian border. To make matters worse, there are no guardrails. However, the road is covered with snow for most part of the year, forcing drivers to err on the side of caution. The traffic is intense, forming long convoys, hence the name.
The Million Dollar Highway stretches 25 miles on Colorado’s Route 550. But despite being a highway, it takes 42 minutes to drive. That’s because it has a speed limit of 25 miles per hour. The road is carved into the side of the San Juan Mountains and reaches an elevation of 11,018 feet. However, it has no guardrails between the pavement and the sheer cliffs. As it climbs higher, the road only narrows and the turns get tighter. The highway is plagued by extreme weather as well. Storms and heavy snowfall make the road constantly at risk for rockslides and avalanches during the winter months. Records show that from 2005 to 2015 there were 412 accidents and eight fatalities, most involving single-vehicle crashes.
From unguarded cliffs to natural disasters, these terrifying roads all have their own dangers. These hazards and risks are why it truly takes guts to traverse them.