Are you ready for a road trip? How often do you get in the car, buckle your seatbelt and set off on your daily commute, to run an errand or leave for vacation without thinking twice about the road ahead? Chances are most of your drives fall on the safe side only requiring you to dodge a pothole here or there. But what if you had to travel more dangerous roads or navigate risky terrain?
Many countries like the United States and Canada have excellent roads and driving standards where most drivers only have to worry about weather conditions and other people on the road. This isn’t always the case, however, as some corners of the world are faced with extremely dangerous roads filled with crater-sized potholes and steep drop offs in addition to mudslides, blizzards and flash flooding that leave drivers gripping the steering wheel and holding on for dear life!
Out of the millions of roads in the world, which are the most dangerous and where are they located? Join us on an epic trip around the globe as we take a look at the 25 most dangerous roads in the world and uncover what makes them so scary! Are you ready for the ride of your life? Let’s hit the road!
#25 – A726 (Scotland)
Traveling to the beautiful country of Scotland for the first stop on our list, the A726 is one of Scotland’s busiest and most dangerous roads as it stretches from Strathaven through Glasglow before stopping at the Erskine Bridge. While parts of the road are considered safe, the A726’s deadliest section extends from Strathaven to Renfrewshire where accidents pile up in a matter of seconds as a result of blind turns and oversized vehicles that tend to drift across both lanes.
While local community councils have teamed up with Scotland’s transportation department to reduce the speed limit on sections of the twisting road, accidents continue to happen because of the road’s incredible disrepair. Marked by potholes, uneven lanes and no room for errors, the transportation department hasn’t found a safe way to close sections of the road to make repairs while giving drivers enough notice to slow down or turn around. And, with conditions like rain, snow and ice, the road’s risk factor only goes up.
#24 – U.S. Route 431 (United States)
Nicknamed Alabama’s “Highway to Hell,” the first of two stops in the United States is on the U.S. Route 431 that stretches from the Alabama-Tennessee line down the eastern side of the state all the way to Dothan, Alabama. While the road is in good condition compared to so many others on the list, its fear factor is through the roof as a result of poor visibility and blind curves, quick lane changes and speeding that plague thousands of drivers traveling on any section of its 353 miles.
One of the biggest distractions on the Highway to Hell as well as a constant reminder of its danger level is the hundreds of crosses that litter the sides of the road. Standing in all sizes and colors with everything from flowers, streamers and American flags around them, the crosses serve as memorials to all those who lost their lives on the highway. Facing the harsh reality and working diligently over the past decade to make the highway safer, the state of Alabama has increased police presence on the route but even that has only had a minimal impact.
#23 – Patiopoulo-Perdikaki Road (Greece)
Definitely not for the faint of heart, the only entrant on the list from Greece is also the country’s most dangerous – the Patiopoulo-Perdikaki Road, which we’ll call PPR for short. Located in the northeastern region of the village of Aetolia-Acarnania, the mountainous PPR begins at 2,300 feet above sea level and climbs to an altitude of over 3,800 feet in an extremely short 14.6 miles. With no markings to distinguish the narrow lanes, it’s no wonder why it takes nerves of steel for anyone to drive this stretch of road.
Despite offering beautiful views of the countryside, it’s nearly impossible to take in the scenery as drivers must pay close attention as they share the road with pedestrians, livestock, buses and other vehicles. To make matters worse, upkeep on the PPR is nonexistent but potholes prove to be the least of anyone’s concern. With no guardrails to protect drivers from the road’s steep drops or lights to mark the way at night, the driving conditions are nerve-wracking, to say the least, as the road offers little grip rain or shine.
#22 – Trans Siberian Highway (Russia)
Though we may be cheating here by listing the Trans-Siberian Highway, its seven roads stretching across Russia between the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean are some of the most notoriously dangerous in the country. Considered one of the longest roads in the world at nearly 7,000 miles, the highway was constructed by prison inmates with the majority of it being easy to navigate. The section between Chita and Khabarovsk is an entirely different matter, however, as it wasn’t finished until 2004 and has earned a reputation as the deadliest.
Typically covered in ice during Russia’s bitterly harsh winters and impassible mud in the rain-filled summers, the Trans-Siberian Highway is in terrible condition with many sections of the road left unpaved. Travelers are warned to only use the road between June and September and to never drive alone as the highway passes through some of the toughest environments from dense forests to long stretches of open land that offer no safe havens for those stranded or in need of rest, gasoline or food.
#21 – Vitim River Bridge (Russia)
Staying in Russia for the next dangerous road on our list, The Vitim River Bridge is much, much shorter than the nearly 7,000-mile-long Trans-Siberian Highway at only 1,870 feet. Built in the 1980s and once used by trains to cross the vast Vitim River, the bridge was opened to automobile traffic to give the small village of Kuanda easier access to neighboring towns. At only six feet wide, there are far safer routes for villagers to use today as surviving the bridge crossing has become quite the feat.
Constructed of wood planks and typically covered in ice due to Siberia’s harsh winters, the Vitim River Bridge is a slippery test of bravery. Lacking guardrails and barely wide enough for one car, there is no room for error as one wrong move can leave travelers on a 50-foot free fall into the murky waters of the river below. The stakes are high on this short stretch of road, which is exactly why 34 travelers who successfully navigated it are proud to share their stories of crossing one of the most spectacular bridges in the world.
#20 – Tianmen Mountain Road (China)
Looking like a dragon climbing the mountain from above, the Tianmen Winding Mountain Road is the first of two of the most dangerous roads in China and takes up nearly seven miles of the breathtaking Tianmen Mountain National Park. Construction on the road began in 1998 and was completed eight years later with 99 turns, 999 stairs and only a few feet between the road’s narrow edge and a deadly plunge down the dense mountainside.
Climbing 3,600 feet in a matter of miles, a section of the winding road also features a natural hole that takes drivers straight through the mountain itself. Though guardrails are strategically placed for added protection in all weather and road conditions, drivers are encouraged to keep their eyes on the road and make the climb slow in order to reach the beautiful natural rock arch known as “Heaven’s Gate” at the top. Those looking for a safer route to the top can hop on a cable car in the city where they can sit back, relax and enjoy the view.
#19 – Commonwealth Avenue (Philippines)
If it doesn’t climb any mountains, pass through harsh terrain or offer dozens of blinding turns, what exactly makes Commonwealth Avenue the most dangerous road in the Philippines? Nicknamed by locals as the “Killer Highway,” the avenue is the widest road in the country that extends from six to 18 lanes across 7.7 miles in the heart of the bustling and chaotic Quezon City whose population is bursting at the seams with nearly 2.8 million residents.
Despite being in good physical condition, Commonwealth Avenue sees a high volume of traffic with absolutely no laws or regulations that lead to hundreds of accidents each year. With no traffic signals or any semblance of order, cyclists and pedestrians take matters into their own hands as they have no other option but to jump in front of moving traffic. Because of this, the short stretch of road sees around five serious accidents per day with public transportation vehicles as one of the primary causes due to careless driving at notoriously dangerous speeds.
#18 – Cotopaxi Volcano Road (Ecuador)
Known as being home to some of the worst roads in the world, Ecuador doesn’t disappoint with the deadly Cotopaxi Volcano Road that is nestled among one of the highest active volcanoes on the planet. Seeing dozens of eruptions over the last 250 years from the Cotopaxi, the winding dirt road leads to the Cotopaxi National Park and requires adventurous travelers to dodge deceptively deep potholes and navigate bridgeless streams without ever taking their eyes off the road.
Surrounded by hundreds of valleys formed by the volcano, the road itself is 25 miles long and requires every driver’s complete concentration as any amount of rain causes nearby streams and potholes to flood making the road impassible and even deadly. While natives to the area are well aware of the dangers, tourists brave enough to venture to the region are most susceptible to accidents as they naively misjudge the road all for the chance of getting a better view of the terrifying and intimidating Cotopaxi Volcano.
#17 – North Yungas Road (Bolivia)
Officially named La Carretera de los Yungas, Bolivia’s North Yungas Road has long earned the nicknames of “Death Road” and “The Road of Fate” thanks to its tragic and devastating history. Stretching across 35 miles of dense jungle from La Paz to Corioco through massive hills and winding turns, the North Yungas Road was once known as the “World’s Most Dangerous Road” as it caught many unprepared travelers off guard and claimed as many as 300 lives per year.
While the rest of Bolivia drives on the right side of the road, the one-lane North Yungas Road requires drivers to hug the left corner in order to get better views of the daunting edges of the cliffs. The fall and winter seasons are the worst for traveling the 35-mile stretch as rain and fog create limited visibility with no guardrails to protect cars from veering over the edge. To make the situation worse, the jungle’s frequent downpours cause mudslides and falling rock that make an already treacherous road even more dangerous.
#16 – BR-116 (Brazil)
Brazil’s own version of the “Highway to Hell” and the “Highway of Death,” the BR-116 federal highway is over 2,700 miles long and runs the coast of the country from Fortaleza to Jaguarao. Considered one of Brazil’s most important and longest highways, the BR-116 is like many other roads on our list and has its fair share of winding sections and anxiety-inducing obstacles. So what makes it one of the most dangerous highways in the country?
The BR-116 is one of the busiest highways and major thoroughfares for truckers traveling through Brazil. Usually tired and ready to make their next stop to get home, truckers typically speed on the winding road as the turf drastically changes from paved to unpaved sections with steep cliffs, no guardrails and blind corners. As a result, semi-trucks have caused some of the most devastating head-on collisions all because of fatigue, careless driving and poor road conditions.
#15 – Federal Highway 1 (Mexico)
If you’ve ever traveled to sunny California, then you surely know about the congested, chaotic and dangerous Interstate 5. However, things get even scarier when Interstate 5 makes the jump into Tijuana, Mexico and becomes Federal Highway 1. Officially known as the Transpeninsular Highway and running over 1,000 miles from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas, the mostly two-lane road is a breeding ground for accidents as twists and turns through mountains offer stunning views of the coast while travelers narrowly escape potholes and other obstacles.
With absolutely no road signs, shoulders and even some areas missing lane markers, the Federal Highway 1 is a perfect recipe for disaster. Drivers speeding along the open road often get distracted as they round blind curves only to see another car approaching head-on. The mountainous sections offer little relief as the road narrows leaving truck drivers and larger vehicles to take up more room than usual. Just seeing the hundreds of guardrails split open as a result of accidents is enough to make anyone slow down and take caution.
#14 – Rohtang Pass (India)
The first of two of the most dangerous roads in India is the Rohtang Pass, which translates as “The Pile of Corpses” as a result of the hundreds of drivers who have lost their lives there. Stretching through the Himalayan Mountains and reaching an incredible elevation of 13,054 feet, the extreme weather and geography create such treacherous conditions that the pass is closed for six months each year in order for crews to find the road by GPS and dig it out again.
Featured on Ice Road Truckers: Deadliest Roads as truckers attempted to make their way through the narrow stretch, the pass suffers from deadly landslides year-round with no guardrails that leave unsuspecting drivers a steep drop to their death. Though some believe that global warming has caused the road to collapse and become even more dangerous, India continues to do everything possible to hold onto the strategic pass as they are currently building a tunnel through the mountain to ensure access to the landlocked neighboring Lahaul Valley.
#13 – Atlantic Road (Norway)
Considered one of the most scenic drives in the entire world (and rightly so!), Norway’s Atlantic Ocean Road takes travelers on a beautiful and dangerous drive along the sea. Only 5.2 miles long and first built as a proposed railroad line for the region, the Atlantic Road stretches across several islands connected by eight bridges. During construction in the 1980s, workers were given their first taste of danger as the project was stopped several times because of storms that caused waves to come crashing over the road.
A huge tourist attraction in the summer months, Norwegians know to avoid the scenic road in the winter season as a result of harsh conditions, blizzards and snowstorms that make it dangerously impassable. With high winds also common in the region especially along the coast, the guardrails provide little protection to drivers attempting to travel the road or cross one of its many bridges making it one of the most dangerous slip and slides in the world.
#12 – Karakoram Highway (Pakistan)
The highest paved international road in the world just so happens to be next on our list and the only entry from Pakistan – the Karakoram Highway. What many consider as the road to paradise when it comes to breathtaking mountain views, the unpaved Pakistani side is treacherous while the northern end of the highway actually reaches into China where it is paved. Built from 1959 to 1986, the warning signs were there early on as nearly 900 construction workers lost their lives throughout the 27-year project.
Continuing to claim the lives of drivers even today, winding blind turns are frequent throughout the 800-mile mountainous stretch that offers no protection against steep cliff drops and harsh rock walls since there are no guardrails or shoulders. Rain and snow are also common in the region and cause landslides, floods and avalanches that make the already narrow 30-foot wide road a landmine and a nightmare for any driver, novice or skilled.
#11 – Guoliang Tunnel Road (China)
Yet another one of China’s famous (and dangerous) roads is the Guoliang Tunnel Road that leaves drivers twisting and turning through the gorgeous Taihang Mountains. Opened in 1977 after five years of construction, the road was intended to make life easier on Guoliang villagers whose only access to the village was by a set of steep and narrow stairs embedded into the mountainside. With the stairs treacherous and slippery year-round, 13 villagers came together and built what is known today as one of the most famous tunnels in the world.
Literally putting Guoliang on the map and transforming it into a scenic route and tourist attraction, many parts of the road are safe as they offer slower speed limits and walls that protect cars from veering off the mountain. However, there are many treacherous areas as well that leave drivers anxiously gripping their steering wheels as visibility is poor around the sharp corners and the carved mountain windows offer little help with blinding sun during the day and vast darkness at night.
#10 – Kabul-Jalalabad Highway (Afghanistan)
The next road on our list is one that many American soldiers can you tell you about firsthand, the Kabul-Jalalabad Highway that joins the two cities across 40 miles in Afghanistan. Completed in 1969 and quickly becoming one of the busiest transportation routes in the area, the two-lane highway has deteriorated drastically over the years making its sharp cliffs, unsuspecting turns and drastic changes in elevation all the more dangerous for drivers.
With many sections of the road currently under construction, weather conditions also lead to closures where the road is higher in elevation and poses the greatest threat. Aside from the geography and climate, the primary cause for so many fatalities on the highway is reckless driving as buses, trucks and other vehicles wreak havoc on one another in complete chaos. As if the high speeds and flipping cars weren’t enough, the Taliban has also orchestrated dozens of attacks along the already dangerous and deadly highway.
#9 – Taroko Gorge Road (Taiwan)
Making our first and only stop in Taiwan, the Taroko Gorge Road is much like the Guoliang Tunnel Road in China as it too has been heralded as a marvel in the world of highway engineering. Despite its praise as an architectural masterpiece, danger is around every turn. Steep drop-offs await drivers who lose their focus or slide through slippery patches on the narrow roads as they make their way around sharp corners that wind through some of the most breathtaking views in the entire country.
With its scenic beauty far outweighing the dangers for many, the Taroko Gorge Road is an attraction for tourists who are brave (and smart) enough to slow down and enjoy the view as dozens of others attempt the same feat. Amid dodging pedestrians, scooters and mopeds, tour buses and more on their way through the national park, the road’s fear factor rises to even greater heights as landslides, typhoons and earthquakes can wreak havoc on the roadway and its travelers at any time.
#8 – Karnali Highway (Nepal)
If you ever find yourself in Nepal, steer clear of the Karnali Highway that connects the towns of Jumla and Surket unless, of course, you like to live on the wild side of danger. Stretching 144 miles across what is known as the Karnali Zone, the highway passes through the middle of one of the least developed regions of Nepal which makes it even more daunting and dangerous. Because of the poor conditions of the road as well as its desolate and uninhabited location, at least 50 people each year meet their fate on the highway.
Made only of dirt with over 85 percent of the road remaining unsafe for travel, the Karnali Highway poses a huge threat to its surrounding villages as people no longer have adequate access to local markets, schools or other facilities that support their well-being. Offering poor traction for any vehicle courageous enough to attempt its winding and blind curves, heavy monsoon seasons create landslides that make the road impassible and leave villagers malnourished and with little hope for survival.
#7 – Passage de Gois (France)
Shockingly enough, France makes our list thanks to a natural road known as the Passage de Gois located on the Atlantic Coast and connecting the island of Noirmoutier to the mainland. Nearly three miles long, the road becomes impassible twice a day as high tides flow in and cover the passageway leaving drivers on the mainland and on the island temporarily stranded. Once the waters recede, slippery seaweed litters the road as a reminder of what has come, gone and will return again.
Usually surrounded by fishing boats, the passage has more than just the ebb and flow of the tide that makes it dangerous as dense fog quickly settles in and limits visibility. Despite the danger (and perhaps because of it), the passage has become a national landmark with annual marathons held at high tide as well as being used in several Tour de France legs where cyclists wiped out because of the wet and slippery conditions. Whether crossing by car, foot or bike, travelers should always pay attention to the warning panels at each entrance to ensure a safe journey across.
#6 – Zojila Pass (India)
India makes its final appearance on our list with the Zojila Pass located in the Himalayan Mountains between Srinagar and Leh. Considered short by many standards at just over five miles, the pass has an elevation of 11,575 feet and brings a huge risk with its narrow lanes and steep drops that test even the bravest drivers. And, while the road is actually concrete, much of it has long been claimed by blowing dirt from the surrounding mountains that makes finding traction even in four-wheel-drive vehicles a difficult task.
During the winter months, conditions worsen as snow makes the Zojila Pass impassable and requires India’s Border Roads Organization to spend several months clearing and repairing the route. Other seasons bring additional risks as high winds and rain the rest of the year cause devastating mudslides and poor conditions that, with absolutely no guardrails or barriers, often leave drivers powerless as their cars veer off the road into the dark abyss of the Himalayas.
#5 – James Dalton Highway (United States)
Heading back to the United States for our second and final American road takes us to the great Alaskan frontier where the James Dalton Highway stretches across 414 miles of wilderness. First built in 1974 as a supply route for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, the road is still used today by nearly 400 trucks each year who always have the right of way as they dodge potholes the size of moon craters along one of the world’s most desolate roads.
Others who dare to travel the Dalton Highway are nothing short of adventurers who have deemed it the “ultimate road trip” for survivalists since there are only three towns along the route without any gas stations, restaurants or hotels in between. Narrow lanes and potholes are the least of anyone’s concern especially in winter when blizzards and subzero temperatures make the highway a sheet of ice with no sign of help in sight. With names like the “Oh S*** Corner,” it’s no wonder why this Alaskan highway is one of the most dangerous in the entire world.
#4 – Stelvio Pass (Italy)
Named as one of the top 25 highest mountain roads in Europe and one of the most scenic drives in the world, the only Italian road to make our list is the Stelvio Pass in the eastern Alps. Rising over 9,000 feet above sea level, the pass was completed in 1825 and is one of the oldest roads on our list and yet another engineering marvel that begs to be driven with its serpentine design and nearly 50 hairpin turns that get even narrower the higher the climb.
As the road narrows and climbs, the elevation and fear factor increase dramatically with heart-racing 180 degree corners and small concrete barriers that offer little protection from a deadly fall down the Alps. Local drivers have come to love the adrenaline rush of their “private” racetrack and are often described as “homicidal” as they whip around turns at high speeds and narrowly escape harm while terrifying unsuspecting newbies simply trying to make it to the top in one piece.
#3 – Skippers Canyon Road (New Zealand)
Constructed by hand between 1883 and 1890, the Skippers Canyon Road in New Zealand was a major accomplishment for miners during the gold rush who, when it came to designing and building the road, cared less about looks or safety and more about function. Located in South Island and stretching 16.5 miles, the road has seen few updates over the years and is filled with potholes, steep drop offs and no guardrails which means that even the smallest error on the narrow lane can be tragic.
Lured by breathtaking views of the countryside and a sense of adventure, drivers continue to make their way to Skippers Canyon Road even today but not without much consideration and warning. With only enough room for one car, drivers who find themselves face to face with another car must negotiate who backs down the mountain and who continues forward. Because of this as well as the terrible conditions of the road itself, rental car companies no longer insure drivers crazy enough to take their chances on one of the most dangerous roads in New Zealand.
#2 – Ruta 5 (Chile)
Coming in at number two on our list is the longest road in Chile, Ruta 5, that covers over 2,000 miles and is part of the Pan-American Highway that stretches as far north as Canada. While much of the drive is barren and uneventful, the Chilean portion between Arica and Iquique is the most dangerous especially near the rural areas outside of the capital city of Santiago. This section of road is notoriously terrifying with its winding turns and deep inclines that leave drivers desperately gripping the steering wheel to avoid joining the other cars littering the valley below.
To make matters worse, the area’s low elevation frequently causes a dense fog that leads to zero visibility along the barren Chilean route. Monotony is the highest risk factor, however, as drivers tend to lose their focus after driving hundreds of miles in the desert without anything in sight only to find themselves in unexpected terrain with steep grades and limited visibility. Add in the presence of speeding drivers taking advantage of the otherwise flat road and the Ruta 5 is a real recipe for disaster!
#1 – Nairobi-Nakuru Highway (Kenya)
Wrapping up our list is the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway in Kenya that joins the two bustling cities and is officially known as A104. Stretching nearly 100 miles and recently repaved, the highway has few barriers but remains in decent condition. So what makes it one of the most dangerous roads in the world? Since smooth roads are extremely rare in Kenya, the highway has quickly become a known racetrack for locals crazed with a need for speed.
Known for cars traveling at lightning speeds on the wrong side of the road and no real rules or law enforcement presence, the highway is also a hotbed for speeding drunk drivers who have no business behind the wheel. Between pedestrians darting in front of speeding traffic, roaming animals, dilapidated cars and no safe standards for driving, the highway has seen an average of 300 deaths per year, most of which could have easily been avoided.