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18 of the Most Dangerous Roads in the World

Any road can be treacherous in the wrong weather conditions or with a reckless driver on the loose but these 18 are the most dangerous roads in the world.

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Aerial View Of Winding Road Amidst Tree
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Proceed with caution!

There are scenic national park road trips, iconic Route 66 drives, and the best road trips across the United States, but these stretches of asphalt, gravel, and/or ice are something else entirely. Not even the ultimate road trip guide will properly prepare you for driving on the most dangerous roads in the world. Attempting to tackle one of the most dangerous roads in the world is not for the faint of heart and not for the kind of driver who struggles to find reverse or doesn’t know how to change a tire!

We came up with our list of the world’s most dangerous roads by consulting the experts who have driven some of these harrowing highways and by checking out other lists from the World Most Dangerous Roads travel documentary TV series. These 18 roads hug the edges of cliffs with no guard rail, are covered in ice, frequently flood, feature 18 lanes of manic traffic, and have sections of their infrastructure that are crumbling that would test even the best road trip cars.

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Cycling - Tour de France 2015 - Stage 19
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Col du Chaussy, France

At 5,029 feet above sea level, Col du Chaussy in the Rhône-Alpes region of south-eastern France is a high mountain pass that starts with the famous “Les Lacets de Montvernier.” This special stretch is only about 2 miles long but features 17 hairpin turns as you climb up an actual cliff. There’s a small concrete barrier as you zigzag upward but this improbable road, while impossibly picturesque, is still one of the most dangerous roads in the world. As with all the roads in the country, here’s why you won’t see a single stop sign in France on the Col du Chaussy.

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Karnali Bridge, Nepal
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Karnali Highway, Nepal

Approximately 50 people die here every year, making a drive on the 155-mile Karnali Highway in the Himalayas of West Nepal a literal death wish. It is one of the most dangerous roads in the world even when it’s not monsoon season because the surface is extremely dusty making visibility poor and includes narrow stretches, landslides, falling rocks, flooded sections, potholes, huge drops off steep cliffs, and significant bumpiness. And now it is only a road passable, at best, during the day as the police have banned driving at night due to the high number of fatal accidents. This highway is dangerous but Nepal is one of the countries that are safer than you think.

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Commonwealth Avenue at Night
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Commonwealth Avenue, Philippines

Unlike other roads and highways on this list of the most dangerous roads in the world, this one isn’t perched on the edge of a mountain or near a crumbling bridge. In fact, it’s a wide urban highway that’s just 7.5 miles long. Eighteen lanes wide to be specific and due to heavy traffic, poor drainage which brings floods on the avenue, and the constant presence of motorbikes and pedestrians that tour buses can’t even see, this road has earned the tragic nickname “Killer Highway” because of the many accidents and fatalities suffered here. For a thrill that doesn’t require a passport, check out Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway.

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Regis Bittencourt BR 116 car pov
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BR-116 (“Rodovia da Morte”), Brazil

Any highway called Rodovia de Morte or Highway of Death is bound to be one of the most dangerous roads in the world. Stretching from Fortaleza in the north of the country to the southeast edge along the Uruguay border, this 2,790-mile highway is the second-longest in Brazil and while it is advertised as being completely paved, that designation is dubious as much of BR-116 is in poor condition. But some cracked asphalt is not what makes it dangerous. Unstable weather and steep cliffs regularly cause major accidents and because the Highway of Death passes through some of Brazil’s most poverty-stricken areas, the threat of gangs lurk in several spots along this busy route. Heading to Brazil? Learn about the unexpected mysteries of the Amazon before you go.

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Taroko Gorge
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Taroko Gorge Road, Taiwan

Similar to the Guoliang Tunnel in China, Taroko Gorge Road is one of the most dangerous roads in the world because it is carved out of a mountain and runs through one too. This popular nearly 12-mile stretch in Taiwan is spectacular so you can expect a parade of tour buses, cars, scooters, bicyclists, and pedestrians all sharing the same narrow road, and all trying to navigate blind corners and terrifying bends that look too small to fit around. If you find yourself on Taroko Gorge Road, you better hope the weather is fair, otherwise, you might suffer through landslides, floods, and falling rocks that make sections impassable. For a road trip that’s scenic and safe, check out the Tail of the Dragon itinerary.

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Autumn season in Turkey's Trabzon
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Bayburt-of Road D915, Turkey

If you fear landslides and have vertigo, it’s best to steer clear of D915 in Turkey. This challenging road is located on the boundary of the Black Sea region in the northeast of the country and is extreme because, in part, there are no guardrails to separate you from a massive drop. In fact, no one but professional drivers should probably attempt this, although the photographic payoff is immense! The most iconic part of Bayburt-of Road is called Derebaşı Turns. It has 13 hairpins that will have you climbing from 5,617 feet above sea level to 6,677 feet above sea level in just three miles with a steep grade up to 10 percent!

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Kahekili highway along Maui island coast
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Kahekili Highway, Hawaii

This 20 mile, one-lane road is framed by rock on one side and sheer cliff drops on the other. It’s as stunning as it is terrifying for nervous drivers heading from Kapalua to Wailuku. The legendary Kahekili Highway is famous for snaking turns and narrow passages.

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Tibet's stunning Nu Jiang Turns along Sichuan-Tibet Highway in Sichuan, China
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Sichuan-Tibet Highway, China

The constant threat of rock slides, mudslides, and avalanches would make any road one of the most dangerous roads in the world but add in treacherous switchbacks on cliffs and winding through peaks, and you have the 1,330-mile Sichuan-Tibet highway connecting China with Tibet. The statistics of fatalities are staggering, with 75 of every 1,000 losing their life on this road built nearly three miles above sea level in the early 1950s, while passing Buddhist monasteries and herds of yaks. Before you find yourself in this situation, read up on these tips for driving in dangerous situations.

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Heaven Linking Avenue of 99 curves at winding Road to The Heaven Gate Zhangjiajie Tianmen Mountain National Park Hunan China
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99-Bend Road to Heaven, China

How many hairpin turns can you fit into 6.8 miles? Turns out, 99 of them! This short stretch in China’s Tianmen Mountain National Park is chock full of sheer drops and twists constructed hundreds of 3,800 feet in the sky. If a straightaway, you could drive this road in less than 10 minutes but what makes 99-Bend Road one of the most dangerous roads in the world is the elevation, the turns, and the sheer lack of anything to keep you from plunging to your death! Not to mention the constant threat of earthquakes in this part of the world!

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view along dalton highway toward brooks range in north alaska in winter, with oil pipeline seen to right

Dalton Highway, Alaska

One of the world’s most isolated and dangerous roads, this icy finger of tarmac was built in 1974 as a supply route for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. Tackle this route and you’ll need to pack plenty of supplies; there are just three towns on the 413 miles (or eerily, 666 kilometers) route, one of which is named Deadhorse. To complicate matters, large sections have fallen into disrepair, and its most famous claim to fame is a reminder that this isn’t a highway you want to break down on: It’s the longest stretch of road in North America without roadside services of any kind. Don’t forget to check out our guide to plan your Alaska road trip.

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World famous Atlantic road bridge (Atlanterhavsvegen) with an amazing view over the norwegian mountains. Atlantic road runs through an archipelago in Eide and Averøy in Møre og Romsdal, Norway.
Dmitry Tkachenko Photo/Shutterstock

Atlantic Road, Norway

This twisting ribbon of coastal concrete might look beautiful, but don’t be fooled; it’s one of Norway’s most dangerous roads when the wild Atlantic comes too close! Drive along it and you’ll feel as though you’re on a rollercoaster ride, thanks to the sharp turns, curves, and twists. When the weather’s bad though—as it often is in this part of the world—visibility can disappear in a matter of seconds. And then you’ve got huge, thundering walls of water which regularly crash over the road’s barriers.

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The Death Road is one of the most dangerous roads in the world. The North Yungas Road in Bolivia, leads from La Paz to Coroico and is popular for travellers to brave the danger and cycle down.
Andrew Clifforth/Shutterstock

North Yungas Highway, Bolivia

Scarily, this narrow road clinging to the side of a Bolivian mountain was once the main route into the country’s capital, La Paz, which holds the honor of the world’s highest capital city. Authorities eventually built a shiny new highway, but locals still speed down this road that also serves as a popular mountain biking spot. There are several reasons not to look down. One of the most unnerving sights is the dozens of makeshift memorials dedicated to those who’ve lost their lives here. The road has a total drop of 12,000 feet and even today, between 200 and 300 people die on the road every year. No matter what road you’re on, avoid these rude driving habits you should stop ASAP.

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Wall road in Shanxi, China

Guoliang Tunnel, China

Leave the monster truck at home for this one. The inside of this 3/4-mile-long road tunnel is just 16 feet tall and 13 feet meters wide. You’ll find it in the Taihang Mountains of Henan Province, China. It was constructed in 1977 by 13 locals, although the reason that it took five years to build is that several villagers died on the job. There are 30 “windows” carved out of the rock, but we don’t recommend stopping for a selfie. And if the thought of driving through this particular tunnel gives you chills, consider this: Before it was built, locals from the village it connects to used a ladder to get back and forth. These are the top extreme travel adventures around the world.

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Zojila Pass is a dangerous road between Leh-Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, India

Zojila Pass, India

At 5.6-miles and 11,500 feet above sea level, this Himalayan highway connects Ladakh and Kashmir. The uneven road surface means it’s only really suitable for off-road vehicles, and during the colder months, wind, snow, and rain make this road more challenging. This is another place where it’s probably best not to look down; at some points, there are only several thousand yards of nothingness between you and the valleys below.

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Karakorum highway. Autumn season in Northern Pakistan.

Karakoram Highway, between China and Pakistan

The Karakoram Highway connects China and Pakistan and at 15,400 feet above sea level, it’s the highest paved road in the world. A total of 82 workers died during construction, mostly due to rockslides, which remain an ever-present hazard to this day. There are no barriers, and many of the drivers who’ve had accidents on the road have been victims of altitude sickness or possibly distracted by the spectacular views of K2. The good news? There are plans to widen the road from 32 feet to nearly 100. The bad news? Authorities believe that this could see the number of vehicles triple. Check out these forbidden places no one is allowed to visit.

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Windy Corner on the Canning Stock Route in outback Western Australia.
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Canning Stock Route, Australia

This road certainly doesn’t offer much in the way of views. There’s dust, dust, and more dust, and hardly any road signs to point you in the right direction. This 1,150-mile-long track in Western Australia is regarded as the world’s most remote road, and you’ll need three weeks to drive it from start to finish. Doing this road trip during the warmer months is almost impossible due to the searing heat, and drivers are advised to travel in multi-vehicle convoys. The road is in a bad state of repair, which is why drivers are urged to leave room not just for food and drink but for spare parts, too. Don’t miss the world’s most dangerous tourist destinations.

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Skippers Canyon Road , Queenstown, New Zealand

Skippers Canyon Road, New Zealand

This unpaved road was carved out of the side of a New Zealand mountain 140 years ago, and today, it’s so dangerous that standard drivers’ insurance won’t cover you should you run into trouble. Encounter another vehicle and it’s highly likely you’ll have to reverse for up to 2 miles before you find a passing point. The miners who built it had only hand drills and gunpowder at their disposal, so it’s understandable that it took 20 years to complete. Don’t be surprised if it looks familiar; the road was a backdrop for Mission: Impossible Fallout and several Lord of the Rings movies. If you drive on any of these roads, you’ll want to remember these driving rules you’ve probably forgotten since driving school.

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Tizi N'Test Pass, Morocco
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Tizi-n-Test, Morocco

A narrow, winding road stuck to the side of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, the Tizi-n-Test was blasted out of the rock in the 1920s and became the first modern road link between Marrakech and the Souss plains. The steep drops mean it’s best avoided if you suffer from vertigo, and local drivers are known to whiz along it at frightening speeds, ignoring rules of the road followed in other parts of the world. The lack of barriers means it should only be attempted in daylight, and during the winter landslides and avalanches occur on an almost daily basis. On the plus side, you’ll enjoy beautiful views of the Atlas mountains, the gorges of Moulay Brahim, and the Souss Valley. After you survive the most dangerous roads in the world, move on to the 12 most dangerous places in the world!

Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle is an Iris Award–winning photographer, avid traveler and English football fanatic who regularly covers travel, culture, cars, health, business, the environment and more for Reader's Digest. He is the proud dad of teen daughters.