The World's Most Dangerous Roads

Car and road safety have come a long way through history to be what they are today. When we drive, we don’t fear the road doing us harm, apart those occasionally tight corners or thin roads.

However, there are roads in the world which are mile stretches of dangerous pathways to travel on with dangers such as drops into steep canyons or rock avalanches and landslides. We’re certainly grateful, here at Willow Leasing, that we don’t have to travel through any of these roads on our commute to work.

10. Atlantic Road – Norway

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If you like riding rollercoasters, this road will certainly get your excitement going. The Atlantic Road in Norway stretches just over five miles and is renowned for being the road that rides the ocean edge. It was opened in 1989 and has National Tourist Route status. Probably one of the most scenic routes on our list, this road has eight bridges that connect a series of small islands and inlets.

It takes the number 10 spot on our list due to its unpredictability in harsh conditions such as blizzards, snowstorms and high-winds which can make the road extremely dangerous and difficult to drive on. Choose your timing wisely if you wish to travel this route.

9. Austrian Road, Kazakhstan

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Named after the Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war who built it, the Austrian Road was carved using picks and tools between 1915 and 1917. It travels through a now national park and can offer some stunning views of the landscape and especially the Kara-Koba River.

However, this 37-mile road makes it onto our list for being a shoddy and dilapidated route to travel with most of its derelict bridges falling regularly into disrepair. The route is frequently impossible to travel through as its surface is not the only thing adding to its danger. In certain weather conditions, this road is home to deadly landslides that can hit without warning and sweep you off the road!  

8. Guoliang Tunnel - China

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Our next dangerous road to travel is through Guoliang Tunnel in China. This impressive tunnel road was carved out of the mountain it sits on by hand. It took thirteen local villagers, five years to complete and looks absolutely breath-taking from the outside. The smallest road on our list at only 0.75 miles long, the Guoliang Tunnel requires a monk-like focus to drive. Local claims that one mistake means big trouble.

On the outside of the tunnel there is a steep drop to the ground below so take caution when trying out this route. It isn’t for the faint of heart. The road itself, although scary, is not the cause of any accidents not even because of its DIY construction. However, there have been several motorists who have met their end because they neglect the potential dangers the road imposes. A gorgeous road to look at but a cautious road to travel.

7. Canning Stock Route – Australia

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A track road that features no steep rock faces or potential landslides, this Australian four-wheel drive route spans 1,150 miles and connects Halls Creek to Wiluna in Western Australia. It is considered one of the toughest and most remote treks to undertake in the world. To enjoy a trip along this route, proper and carefully organised preparation is essential. It traverses through three desert plains and four native title areas. All of which are substantially remote and require you to be self-sufficient for most of the journey.

This trip takes up to three weeks to complete and requires a vehicle with four-wheel drive which has plenty of space for food, water and spare parts. You should also have someone on the trip who has some basic knowledge of fixing a faulty car. There are few petrol stops along the way (although quite scarce) as well as various wells of water. The route isn’t maintained but is kept open for any adventurous trekkers to drive. This route is described as taking no prisoners.

6. Fairy Meadows Road – Pakistan

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Our next road is a road that was created hundreds of years ago and still uses the same surface that it did when it was constructed. The Fairy Meadows road is roughly ten miles long and branches off from the equally dangerous Karakoram Highway (number 2 on our list). It travels to the village of Tato which sits at an altitude of 3,300 metres above sea-level.

The road narrows for a six-mile stretch with it being no wider than a standard Jeep Wrangler. This section is unpaved and uneven and has no barrier to prevent a vehicle from falling off of the cliff and into the canyon below. Not for the faint of heart, this road is unforgettable and provides some wonderful scenic views of the Nanga Parbat mountain range.

5. Zoji La Pass – India

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The fifth most dangerous road on our list is the Zoji La – a high mountain pass that includes stunning views and heart-stopping moments. The road connects Baltal and Matayen in the Kargil district of Ladakh in India and is 16 miles long. The drive is not easy with the road only being a thin line through the mountains. It is a one-lane crumbling dirt trail that sticks to some of the world’s tallest mountains without a barrier as protection from the sheer drops. Those who arrive unprepared may expect dangers to be lurking all around.

The Pass is often covered in snow that rests between 15 and 24 metres deep and clean-up of the snow can take up to two months to complete. The road’s clearing efforts unfortunately couldn’t stop 350 travellers from being stranded on the road because of the heavy snowfall in 2011 and in 2012, 11 tourists were killed when their vehicle skidded off the edge of the road and down into the pass. A road certainly for the brave.

4. Taroko Gorge Road – Taiwan

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Similarly, to the Guoliang Tunnel, our next road was carved right out of the mountain face. The Taroko Gorge Road in Taiwan is considered an engineering masterpiece as it cuts right through the mountains of Taroko National Park to connect the east coast and west coast in a 118-mile trail. It was constructed between 1956 and 1960 and its guidebooks claim it took 450 lives during that time.

The road is in terrible condition: the narrow space of the road is fought over by the many buses, pedestrians, scooters, and cars that travel down it, in torrential weather, during typhoon season, debris is thrown onto the road and the walls of the gorge are prone to crumbling during seismic activity. This road requires a driver who has experience and confidence and is willing to drive there at their own risk.

3. Sichuan-Tibet Highway – China

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This road spans 1,330 miles and connects Chengdu, Sichuan to Lhasa, Tibet. A trip along this highway can take up to 15 days. It is a common road for lorry and truck drivers who regularly take the journey of 14 high mountains with an elevation of 4,000 metres. It is journey that takes you through some of the most scenic open landscapes on Earth. Travellers often describe the scenery as magnificent and changeable.

This breath-taking highway is on our list, however, for its infamous bad driving surfaces and mazes of sharp mountain-side hairpins. This road is also often scattered with landslides and rock avalanches with the local army always on guard 24 hours a day. It has half the amount of oxygen than that at sea-level and swings down the mountain-side to connect over numerous famous rivers using dangerous bridges. Unfortunately, in 2011, a bus travelling the route was reported to have veered off the pass, killing 16 passengers.

Many travellers of this route claim that the dangers are a worthy risk to take just to experience the exuberant and beautiful views along it.

2. Karakoram Highway – China/Pakistan

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Our second most dangerous on the list, Karakoram Highway is one of the highest paved roads in the world and has been named the Eighth Wonder of the World. This mountain road has numerous hairpin curves and sheer drop-offs and traverses roughly 800 miles; connecting China and Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range. Although filled with stunning views of the mountain range, the road has a shear rock wall on one side and on the other a barrier-less drop. It’s construction, from 1959 to 1986, took the lives of 810 Pakistani and 82 Chinese workers due to mostly landslides and falls.

The area of the highway is prone to floods and landslides throughout the year and has also taken the lives of tourists. In 2018, 17 locals were killed when a passenger bus fell into a deep gorge. That same year, three were injured and a tourist killed when a landslide hit a van travelling on the highway. It is a road that will test both you and your vehicle as it is filled with twists and turns that keep you on edge and your heart racing.

1. Yungas Road (Death Road) - Bolivia

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The most dangerous road in the world has to be Yungas Road – a route more commonly known as the Death Road. It is legendary – infamous for its heart-stopping narrow paths, dangerous driving, and sheer drops down into the canyon below. The road connects Yungas to Bolivia’s capital city and is roughly fifty miles long.

The road is visited yearly by an average of 25,000 tourists since the 90s who are most likely seeking an adrenaline filled adventure. However, the Death Road is not just for show. It is believed that between the 1930s and 1998, each year an average of 26 cars plummeted over the edge and 200 to 300 travellers lost their lives along the road. The road gives no mercy. There are many shocking accidents that have occurred over the years – one of these is when a bus veered off the edge of the road and down into the canyon, killing one hundred passengers on board.

If you dare to travel on this road, make sure to have your full attention on the route ahead.

Thinking of a road trip?

These roads certainly have me nervous. I won’t be driving down them any time soon but what about you? Could you brave the terrifying canyons of the Death Road or would you rather stay home and experience it through the safety of your television? Do you have a crazy route that you’ve taken that you think should be on this list?

Tell us on our social media! We’d love to know what you think!