Treacherous passes and poorly-maintained roads and vehicles combine to make these roads the most deadly in the world. Would you avoid them? Or seek them out?
The North Yungas Road in Bolivia, also known as the 'Road of Death', is said to be the most dangerous road in the world. With its narrow and uneven tracks – some only three metres wide – and very steep mountains and sheer drops of up to 1,000m, it's easy to see why!
The road links La Paz with Coroico, with the first 40km stretch deemed as the most hazardous. Every year, hundreds of deaths are caused by vehicles plunging off the road while trying risky overtaking manoeuvres. The road surface is unstable, waterfalls cascade down the side of the mountain, and dense cloud cover makes visibility poor.
After years of construction, a new bypass which tunnels through the mountain was opened in 2006, skirting around the most dangerous section of the road.
Zojila is a high mountain pass in Indian Kashmir, located on the Indian National Highway 1D between Srinagar and Leh. Most of the Himalayan roads are extremely hazardous but this one is a killer. Dangerously narrow and often muddy or icy, it is littered with crashed cars and overturned buses.
Zojila provides a vital link between Ladakh and Kashmir and many take the risk of using this very unstable and high altitude pass everyday. It runs at an elevation of approximately 3,528m, and is the second highest pass in the Himalayan mountain range. It is often closed during winter, though the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is working to extend traffic to most parts of the year.
This road is situated at the base of Pakistan’s Nanga Parbat, the ninth tallest mountain in the world at 8,126m. This is a great photo spot for nature lovers. But, getting to Joot (or 'Fairy Meadows') is a huge risk that prevents many from enjoying the view.
The most dangerous part of the road up to Fairy Meadows involves a narrow 6-mile ascend on an unpaved and uneven road. There are no barriers to prevent a vehicle from falling off the cliff.
Negotiating this road is definitely not for the faint of heart. If you plan on going up, drive very slowly and do not go up with anything bigger than a jeep; the road simply isn’t big enough.
Nicknamed 'Rodovia da Morte' (The Highway of Death) by locals, the BR-116 is the second-longest highway in Brazil, running from Fortaleza all the way to Jaguarão. It is the scene of thousands of road deaths each year.
The cliff section leading up Sao Paolo is notoriously dangerous, mostly due to poor weather conditions coupled with the way that the winding roads run breathtakingly close to the mountain’s edge.
However, It's not just the weather and road conditions that make a journey on the BR-116 so treacherous. Police patrols are scarce, and drivers are often at risk of being attacked by gangs and armed bandits.
The Trans-Siberian Highway can vary from well-surfaced motorway in the west to a unstable and tricky dirt track in the east. Conditions often deteriorate in the summer, as heavy rains make sections of the road impassable.
Such is the nature of Russia, the extreme winter conditions almost fully destroy parts of the road each year – and maintaining the huge stretch of road is near impossible.
The road is isolated and desolate, so you would do well to carry survival supplies with you. If you get caught out here, it may be the last mistake you'll ever make.
The James W. Dalton Highway, also known as the 'Haul Road', has been ranked the third most dangerous highway in the world. The 414 mile road, running from Fairbanks to the North Slope of Alaska, was opened for drivers in 1974 to enable trucks to supply businesses with oil and gas.
The highway twists and winds around steep mountains of the Brooks Range, where the lowest temperature ever recorded in the U.S (-62 degrees Celsius) occurred in the winter of 1971.
In 1994 the road was opened to tourists, which shocked some of the professional truck drivers who had been driving the treacherous two-lane road for years. In order to help decrease the road's fatality rate, a helicopter patrols up and down the highway twice-daily looking for broken-down vehicles and accidents. There are few services and just one fuel stop at Coldfoot, which sits halfway to Deadhorse, Alaska, at the north end of the highway.