Five Most Dangerous Roads in the World. No.4 Is a Bollywood Star
This article was originally published in Malay.
When asked what is the most dangerous road in Malaysia, the names that come to mind are the windy and haunted Karak Highway; Jalan Tapah, leading to Cameron Highlands, infamous for sharp corners, steep hillsides, and frequent landslides; and not forgetting the roads heading up to Genting Highland or Bukit Putus, with their share of stories of ghostly encounters. But these are just a stroll in the park, compared to the most dangerous roads in the world:
1. Street of Death, North Yungas, Bolivia
Being at an altitude of 2,000 feet above sea level places this road among the top of the list of most dangerous roads in the world. The Street of Death, built in the 1930s, is not just located on a steep hillside with sharp corners, but heavy rainfall and the thick fog of the Amazon often make this road a deathtrap. Landslides are not uncommon and small waterfalls down hillside crevices make the road slippery. It’s no surprise that the number of fatalities recorded here is 200 to 300 every year!
2. Jalalabad-Kabul Road, Afghanistan
The 143-kilometre stretch of road that connects Kabul and Jalalabad in Afghanistan is, as you can see in the image below, somewhat terrifying. Construction was completed in 1969 on this road that runs parallel to the Kabul River ravine, 600 meters below. When it snows, most of the road would be shut down and motorists have to wait for hours and hours before it opens up again. Although it is known to be a dangerous route, it seems that the locals love to speed and race here, resulting in frequent car crashes and heavy vehicles reversing.
3. Dalton Highway, Alaska
At first glance, the Dalton Highway looks…benign. But it is often referred to as “the loneliest road in the world” (and we now know that loneliness kills). It was built in 1974 by the eponymous road engineer, James Dalton. Whoever dares to traverse this stark highway would have to stock up on enough essentials – food, water, car repair equipment, etc – to sustain them for 666 kilometers (ok, that’s not a good omen already). Motorists are advised to keep the headlights at all times because it is often plagued with thick fog and snow and slippery conditions, so speeding – even on what looks like a relatively straight road – is a horrible accident waiting to happen (no ambulance or doctors for miles).
4. Karakoram Highway, Pakistan
This 1,300-kilometre scenic highway connects Pakistan and China. And whilst it is also known for beautiful mountain peaks and mighty rivers and therefore have been the setting for many a Bollywood scene, driving here is truly a gut-wrenching experience. Navigating the rocky terrain and hairpin turns is tough enough, and then there are the unexpected landslides and flooding. One slightly bad move will find you at the bottom of the ravine. Definitely not for the meek.
5. Guoliang Tunnel, China
This tunnel road spans only 750 meters but was built by only 13 villagers in 1973, using only hammer and chisel and elbow grease. It’s most unforgiving too for one tiny mistake will see you plummeting 1,700 meters to the valley floor below. Despite the high risk and dangers, it’s a favourite tourist desination for its beautiful scenery and, we suppose, thrill of driving on the edge.
Karak Highway suddenly seems…lovely now, doesn’t it?