Before we get started, I am well aware that you have probably seen all the Fast and the Furious movies multiple times and are probably a super great driver. But even if you’re essentially Dominic Toretto behind the wheel, you would have to think long and hard before traveling down the next 15 roads that we are going to talk about.
We’ve got places nicknamed “the highway of death,” “death road,” and there is even one road whose name literally translates to “the road that tolerates no mistakes.” We have scanned the globe to discover the 15 most dangerous roads you can travel. Along with being ridiculously terrifying roads, you’ll also find that some of these would be unforgettable for their beautiful sights.
But whether it’s other drivers, steep heights, awful weather conditions or, you know, the Taliban, all of the roads on this list pose more than enough threats to make your next drive out, your last one.
15. Atlanterhavsvein – Norway
The Atlanterhavsein (also known as the Atlantic ocean road) is located in Norway on National Road 64.
While the view is understandably gorgeous, do not let that distract you from the significant risks that this road poses. The road is built on small islands which stretch for roughly 5 miles. What this means is that if you crash, you are going straight into the ocean. Let’s hope you are a better swimmer than you were a driver!
Water poses a constant risk, as the waves are constantly crashing up against the roadway and as you can imagine, that greatly increases the chances of hydroplaning. Not to mention that even if you are just a pedestrian, it looks like you better be ready for your impromptu surfing lesson.
14. Stelvio Pass – Italy
The benefit of taking a trip on Stelvio Pass is that you are in Italy, where there is definitely no shortage of beautiful things around you and sights to see in the cities (not to mention all the food!). But if you want to make sure you can enjoy all of those things, then one of the first steps is making sure you are, you know, alive.
And the easiest way to ensure that may be to avoid taking a trip on Stelvio Pass. The 15-mile long road contains 48 hairpin turns (count ’em, 15!) and at areas requires drivers to pull off 180-degree corners.
The road is also going to test your fear of heights, as at one point it stretches upwards of 9,000 feet. Want to know just how dangerous the road is? You literally can only drive on it from June to September. This is to assure that drivers are only on the road during optimal weather conditions.
13. Sichuan-Tibet Highway – China
As if we didn’t have enough dangerous roads from different countries, we’re about to add China to our list as we cover the Sichuan-Tibet highway. There are plenty of highways on here that are physically terrifying, but the Sichuan-Tibet Highway has the numbers to back it up.
The highway is responsible for 7,500 deaths out of every 100,000 people. That’s definitely a lot of death occurring on this road that is roughly 2,142km long. It is also not paved, meaning that during some of the rainier seasons mud can lead to your cars getting stuck for upwards of weeks. That’s a whole different type of traffic jam!
It isn’t just other drivers that make the highway a dangerous place to drive, as it is also vulnerable to avalanches, rock slides and other hazardous conditions that may play a significant impact on driving conditions. At least the scenery may be worth it, as you will drive past 14 high mountains, as well as travel through some of the most beautiful and iconic rivers in China.
12. The Leh-Manali Highway – Northern India
Are you afraid of heights? If so we probably don’t have to spend a long time convincing you as to why the Leh-Manali highway is considered to be one of the most dangerous roads in the world. After all, it’s the highest one on Earth! Stretching upwards at an astonishing height of 11,578 feet, you can imagine that is a long way down to think about your poor driving choices if you make the wrong move.
To make the road all the more terrifying, you get the pleasure of driving on what is essentially crumbling dirt that you can see fall off behind you as you go. Regular drivers are not often found on this road (which connects India and Tibet), but tourist buses have been known to travel on it – which essentially means that as well as having an absolutely terrifying road ahead of you, you also are a passenger in a bus full of people that are probably losing their minds every 5 seconds.
11. James Dalton Highway – Northern Alaska
If you are just getting your driving shoes on, you better not be anywhere near James Dalton Highway which is located in Northern Alaska. The road is constantly challenging drivers, making it evident very quickly that if your car cannot hold up to the snowy conditions (and has four wheel drive!) you’re probably in for a pretty rough time.
It’s not like you’re going for a short stroll either, as the highway is roughly 415 miles long. The main benefactor of the road is the Prudhoe Bay Oilfields which constantly run their big rig trucks up and down the highway.
The highway is also pretty far removed from civilization, which means it is definitely far from the best place to take a tumble. Don’t expect to travel to Northern Alaska and be able to check this one off your bucket list. You are unable to rent a car in Alaska and then take it on the Highway.
10. Karnali Highway – Nepal
Does the above photo give you a sense of claustrophobia when you consider how narrow those roads look, even just for scooters? Now imagine a big car on the Karnali Highway which stretches out for 155 miles in Nepal and sees roughly 50 people die every single year.
The road is integral for people living in Surkhet who depend on the town of Jumla for survival. When there was a monsoon back in 2010 that led to a closure of the highway, several people in the town of Surkhet died as a result of starvation before the road was opened again. When you learn that 64% of the population in Surkhet live in poverty (including 60-75% of the children being malnourished), you may further understand the vital importance of this dangerous road.
9. Skippers Canyon Road – New Zealand
Continuing our travels around the world, why not take a trip down to New Zealand to check out Skippers Canyon Road. While the name may indicate that you’re in for a fun time, the narrowness of the road will quickly make you realize that only the most experienced drivers should be spending some time out here.
The cliffs that surround the road may be absolutely beautiful, but they are also dangerous as one wrong move will quickly send you tumbling down the Canyon, from which there is no escape.
Like the James Dalton Highway, New Zealand has taken steps to try and prevent inexperienced drivers from trying to drive on the Canyon Road, as rental car insurance will not cover any accidents on it.
But even if you don’t go head-on into a collision, seeing another driver on the Canyon road could spell trouble as the narrow paths literally make it nearly impossible for one driver to let the other one pass. We sure hope you don’t mind reversing out of that situation!
8. Commonwealth Avenue – Philippines
While you can argue if this is as intimidating as the nickname Highway of Death, which you’ll read about below, drivers in the Philippines know well enough to try and stay the F away from Commonwealth Avenue.
The road runs for 7.5 miles but stretches up to 18 lanes wide, which can cause significant confusion and dangerous accidents. On top of all of this is the fact that pedestrians are also constantly walking on the road, creating yet another risk of fatal injury.
Over the course of a year, thousands of individuals die as a result of accidents on the street. One of the primary reasons for the poor driving conditions (along with the overcrowding) is the excess amount of flooding that can occur during storm seasons as a result of the poor draining system.
7. Eshima Ohashi Bridge – Japan
No, you aren’t taking a look at the craziest rollercoaster that the world has ever seen. Instead, you’re staring at a photo of the Eshima Ohashi Bridge which (thankfully) only stretches for 1 mile, but you definitely are not going to argue with me when I tell you it is one of the most dangerous roads in the world.
The bridge has a gradient of 6.1% on one side, and a gradient of 5.1% on the other, which understandably makes it one of the steepest bridges in the entire world.
You’ll be glad to learn that at least it was built with a purpose, as the plan was to make sure fishing boats would be able to pass through without impacting traffic (how thoughtful – instead just the traffic accidents can!).
6. North Yungas Road – Bolivia
The next entry on our list is a highway that is literally nicknamed “The Highway Of Death,” but what better way to introduce that highway, than starting out with the North Yungas Road which has the equally warm nickname: Death Road.
The road starts in Bolivia’s Capital of La Paz and leads to the town of Chulumani which is roughly 40 miles away. Sadly for hundreds of people every year, that trip towards Chulumani would be their last. It is reported that roughly 200-300 people die every year from accidents on the road, a sobering fact that gets hammered home by the constant memorials that are set up.
Back in 1995, when the Inter-American Development Bank was trying to decide on which was the most dangerous road in the entire world, they decided on North Yungas. Reasons for this include the fact that rain and fog have been known to significantly impact visibility, as well as rockfalls in the summer.
5. BR-116 – Brazil
Now if we’re being honest, when you literally have the nickname “The Highway Of Death,” you know you are definitely going to be landing a pretty high spot on this list. You think the person who helped design the road ever puts that on his cover letter?
To make this road even more dangerous, it is the second longest road in the entire country of Brazil as it runs for 2,200 miles. Sadly when it comes to trying to identify why this road is so dangerous, neglect seems to be the primary factor. Potholes litter the highway, as do other signs of a poorly maintained highway.
If you’re also a thief in Brazil and trying to stage some type of robbery from a car, the Highway of Death is probably where it is going to go down, making this is a constant problem for drivers.
4. Jalalabad-Kabul Road – Afghanistan
When it comes to the Kabul-Jalalabad road in Afghanistan, there are a few factors that play into why it is one of the most dangerous roads in the world. One of them being that, like the Brazilian highway below, the road is often the scene of gang (or Taliban) violence. But if that wasn’t enough, the amount of reckless drivers is enough to ensure it is one of the most dangerous roads in the world.
Juma Gul owns a fabric shop that allows him to look out onto the highway, and when asked about it, he said “The fighting with the Taliban lasts only for a day or two, but the crashes are every day. It’s a kind of theater. Sometimes, a car will fly by in the air.”
Dexter Filkins wrote about the road back in 2010, saying “The cars zoom at astonishing speeds, far faster than would ever be allowed on a similar road in the West, if there was one. Like Formula One drivers, the Afghans dart out along the sharpest of turns, slamming their cars back into their lanes at the first flash of oncoming disaster. Most of the time they make it.”
While other roads may boast a higher fatality count, Filkins also pointed out that the people in Afghanistan have long stopped keeping track of the high number of fatalities. While this is hardly a big enough sample size, Filkins wrote that on one of his days there he saw 13 accidents in two hours, all of which were catastrophic and several of which were fatal.
3. Guoliang Tunnel Road – China
You’ll be glad to learn that at the very least the Guoliang Tunnel is primarily used as a tourist destination now and one that people often go to on foot. The road was miraculously created by 13 villagers who lived in the Taigang Mountains and required a tunnel that connected them to the world outside of the Guoliang village.
The tunnel took roughly 5 years to create, with the project starting in 1972, and is 0.75 miles long, as well as 16 feet tall and 13 feet wide.
While driving absolutely still happens on the road, it is not as common anymore, especially when you learn that the name of the tunnel literally translates to “Road that tolerates no mistakes.”
This becomes even more apparent when it is wet as the material on the road and surrounding area makes it incredibly dangerous for drivers. The width of the road also ensures that only two cars pass at a time.
2. Trollstigen – Norway
Do you love feeling like a super big badass as you hug your car around some sweet turns on a regular basis? Of course you do, buddy! But just because you probably aren’t going to make it as a professional race car driver, why not test your turning skills on one of the best courses nature has to offer: The Trollstigen road which is located in Rauma, Norway. The road also stands for “The Troll Ladder,” which you have to admit is also a pretty cool nickname for a road!
If we’re getting down to the technical aspects of the road, the incline is roughly 9%, which definitely means you may see curves tighter than a Kardashian’s!
You may also enjoy teasing your friend who drives a Smart Car, but you wouldn’t be if you wanted to check out this road! It’s so narrow that you literally cannot have a vehicle that is bigger than 40 feet long.
The Norwegian Government is well aware that this is one of the most dangerous roads on the list (and not just because they’re reading this list) but because the road is literally situated on the side of a mountain (Woo, Norwegian beauty!) there is only so much they can do to widen the roads.
1. The Zoji Pass – India
I hope you don’t mind getting sweaty palms when you look at photos of extreme heights because The Zoji Pass is definitely going to throw you through a loop. Stretching upwards of 11,575 feet (and 3,528 meters above sea level), it becomes clear that if you don’t have experience on this road, then you’re going to be in for a bad time.
Located in India, the road which runs for 5.6 miles provides an integral link between the towns of Ladakh and Kashmir. As you can imagine based on how the road is situated, it is closed throughout the winter due to impossible driving conditions, even for the most experienced drivers.
At least the dangerous roads may be worth it, as it is reportedly one of the best ways in the world to get a great view of the Himalayan mountains. Let’s just hope you don’t get too distracted and make this your last driving adventure!