The introduction of motor cars revolutionized transportation, presenting a remarkable innovation. However, numerous roads globally faced challenges in adjusting to this new mode of transportation. Despite the convenience brought about by cars, they contributed to over 42,000 fatalities in the United States in 2022, as reported by the Governors Highway Safety Association. While many of these accidents resulted from driver errors, some can be attributed to some of these poorly designed roads. These are 25 of the most deadly roads in the world we have found.
1. North Yungas Road, Bolivia
Located in the Bolivian Andes, the notorious “Death Road” descends from La Paz to Coroico. Its perilous reputation is attributed to steep drops, narrow passages, and unpredictable weather conditions. While it draws a mass of tourists, the road results in approximately 200 – 300 deaths a year.
2. Guoliang Tunnel Road, China
Carved through the Taihang Mountains in Henan Province, this road is known for its narrowness and challenging terrain. The combination of carved mountain tunnels and cliffs draws tourists, making it a risky route for drivers. Most accidents here occur due to human error.
3. Karakoram Highway, Pakistan to China
Connecting Pakistan and China, this highway traverses the formidable Karakoram Range. High altitudes, harsh weather, and challenging terrain contribute to its status as one of the world's most dangerous roads. Many people have lost their lives on this road. In February 2023, two vehicles collided, plunging into a ravine and claiming 30 lives.
4. Trans-Siberian Highway, Russia
Spanning Russia from west to east, this highway network — separate from the Trans-Siberian Railway — encounters remote areas, harsh weather conditions, and limited services, making it a challenging and potentially hazardous journey.
5. James Dalton Highway, Alaska, USA
Stretching 414 miles through the remote Alaskan wilderness, this unpaved road from Fairbanks to Deadhorse is featured in the History Channel's Ice Road Truckers. Its hazards include icy conditions, isolation, and challenging terrain.
6. Skippers Canyon Road, New Zealand
Winding through Skippers Canyon near Queenstown on the South Island, this narrow road has sharp turns and steep drop-offs, posing challenges for drivers. It's considered dangerous enough that most rental companies refuse insurance to drivers intending to take the road.
7. Trollstigen, Norway
Situated in the Rauma Municipality, this road is known for its steep inclines, sharp turns, and adverse weather conditions. Trollstigen translates as “Troll's Road” and has eleven hairpin bends. The combination of these factors makes it a risky journey.
8. Stelvio Pass, Italy
Nestled in the Italian Alps, Stelvio Pass is one of the highest paved mountain passes in the Eastern Alps. The road features 60 hairpin turns with a low concrete barrier, creating a dangerous drop. It is renowned as one of Europe's most spectacular drives. It has been a challenging course for the Giro d'Italia cycle race stages.
9. Zoji la Pass, India
Connecting Ladakh and Kashmir in the Indian Himalayas, Zoji La Pass is characterized by landslides, challenging weather conditions, and high altitudes, making it a hazardous mountain pass. Reports of accidents occur frequently, including people plunging over the edge and cars trapped in avalanches.
10. Leh-Manali Highway, India
Traversing the Himalayas and connecting Leh in Ladakh to Manali in Himachal Pradesh, this high-altitude road presents challenges due to its rugged terrain and unpredictable weather conditions. In July 2023, it was reported to have been washed away in torrential rains that hit Himachal. Large death tolls are often reported here.
11. Sichuan-Tibet Highway, China
Connecting Chengdu in Sichuan to Lhasa in Tibet, this high-altitude road traverses challenging terrain and faces unpredictable weather conditions. It's reported that 7.5% of people who've traveled on it have met their fate.
12. Taroko Gorge Road, Taiwan
Carved through the mountains of Taiwan in the Taroko National Park, this road is known for its scenic beauty but is also prone to landslides and rockfalls. While it's only 1.2 miles in length, it managed to take 450 lives while it was being built. It's recommended for only experienced drivers.
13. Tianmen Mountain Road, China
This road is characterized by hairpin turns, leading to the famous Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie, which offers a thrilling but challenging driving experience. Ninety-nine turns represent the nine steps to heaven and 4265 feet above sea level.
14. The Million Dollar Highway, USA
This scenic but challenging road connects Silverton and Ouray through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Steep cliffs and sharp turns contribute to its difficulty. It's claimed over 400 lives since 1992.
15. Hana Highway, Hawaii, USA
Winding through the lush landscapes of Maui, this road connects Kahului to Hana. Narrow bridges, curves, and beautiful scenery make it challenging for drivers. Like many country roads, there are no street lights over its 620 curves, 59 bridges, and 64.4 miles. It claims an average of 40 lives per year.
16. A726, Scotland
Running through 27.3 miles of Scotland and connecting various towns and cities, this road is known for its foggy conditions, posing challenges for drivers, especially in limited visibility. Accidents resulting in many deaths of both car occupants and pedestrians often occur because of the low visibility.
17. Lysebotn Road, Norway
Leading to the village of Lysebotn, this narrow, winding road of 18 miles and 27 hairpin bends with a steep incline offers breathtaking views of the Norwegian fjords but challenges drivers. It sits at over 3,000 feet above sea level and, surprisingly, has less of an annual death toll than many of the other roads mentioned here.
18. Kolyma Highway, Russia
Known as the “Road of Bones,” this highway in the Russian Far East stretches from Magadan to Yakutsk. Its hazards include remote, frozen landscapes and a dark history related to Stalinist labor camps. The most tragic deaths here, besides driving fatalities, are the alleged over 250,000 imprisoned laborers who lost their lives during its construction.
19. Emerald Bay Road, Vikingsholm, USA
Perched precariously on a steep mountain ridge near Lake Tahoe, this road is not advisable for those who fear heights. The journey can be quite unnerving as it consists of a narrow two-lane path lacking guardrails and featuring substantial drop-offs on both sides.
20. Passage du Gois, France
A causeway in France, this road connects the mainland to Noirmoutier Island during low tide. The risk lies in the road flooding during high tide, making it accessible only at certain times. There are frequent reports of trapped cars and deaths on the road.
21. Halsema Highway, Philippines
Situated in the Philippines, this mountainous road, reaching an elevation of 7,400 feet, links Baguio to the broader Luzon region. Its challenging terrain is defined by high altitudes and steep descents. Certain sections of the highway pose particular risks, especially in the rainy season, as landslides frequently occur, and asphalted stretches become slippery.
22. Patiopoulo-Perdikaki Road, Greece
Situated in the northeastern part of Aetolia-Acarnania in Greece, the road from Patiopoulo to Perdikaki is deemed one of the world's most perilous drives. Spanning 17.9 mi, this route is characterized by its narrowness, numerous twists and turns, and a lack of protective rails along sheer drops, making it highly unsafe for visitors attempting the journey.
23. Fairy Meadows Road, Pakistan
The neglected, unpaved road, about 9.94 miles long, connects the Karakoram Highway to Tato village near Fairy Meadows. Lacking guardrails and narrowing towards the end pose a dangerous route without protection from steep cliffs. The road, no wider than a standard Jeep Wrangler, is prone to accidents, heightened by through traffic. Fairy Meadows, the destination, is at an altitude of around 3,300 meters.
24. Villavicencio to Uspallata Road, Argentina
Also known as Route 7, this road traverses the Andes between the cities of Villavicencio and Uspallata. The route is marked by steep ascents and descents, tight curves, and unpredictable weather conditions, presenting significant risks to drivers. Route 7 is renowned for its hazardous terrain and frequent occurrences of traffic accidents.
25. BR-116, Brazil
Also known as Rodovia Presidente Dutra, BR-116 is a major highway and the longest in Brazil at 2,822 miles. It connects the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. It has gained notoriety for its high accident rate, challenging curves, and heavy truck traffic. The road passes through diverse terrains, including mountainous regions and dense forests, presenting a range of hazards for drivers. Extreme weather conditions and sections with limited visibility contribute to the road's reputation as one of the most dangerous in Brazil.