Be thankful your annual holiday hike to the mall doesn't include peering over a couple thousand feet of poorly-maintained mountain gorge while unlicensed truck drivers barrel towards you. Here's our tour of the world's eight most dangerous roads.
With more cars and more people, road safety has become a global priority, and many of the routes that posed the most danger to motorists' lives have been tamed. But as our list shows, the most dangerous roads often combine challenging geography with a human element.
Stelvio Pass, Italy
The Stelvio Pass in northern Italy looks more like a dream than a nightmare, and its 48 bends have made it almost a cliche among journalists wanting to test a car to its limits. Still, it is the Alps; night and snow can end the fun quickly.
Another twisty European favorite, the "Troll's Ladder" offers 9% grades and 11 hairpin turns. Its a tourist destination, and being in Europe offers far more safety features than its location might suggest. Closed now, it won't reopen until late April or early May.
Nairobi-Nakuru Highway, Kenya
It's just 86 miles, but the highway between Nairobi and Nakuru poses a lethal combination of natural and man-made hazards. As this report shows, even with a resurfaced road the route's drivers and roadside stands just feet from speeding vehicles are their own worst enemy.
Guoliang Tunnel, China
What to do when your government won't build a road through the mountains to your isolated village? Why, sell off your livestock and start hammering the rocks yourself, of course. Started in 1972 by Shen Mingxin and 13 other men, this tunnel was hand-carved, with "windows" along its route.
Fairy Meadows Road, Pakistan
In the western Himalayas, the "Fairy Meadow" is a tourist destination and waystation for other mountain trips. Paving the road would only make it less scenic, we suppose, while eliminating some of the thrill of wondering when the next rock slide will occur.
Leh–Manali Highway, India
There's only one road in the world higher than the Leh-Manali in India, which twists through several Himalayan passes. Built and maintained by the Indian Army, traversing its 300 miles typically takes two days; landslides and weather knock it out of service frequently, and the altitude can make many visitors ill.
Yungas Road, Bolivia
It's one thing to drive twisty roads in wealthy countries; quite another to haul along the side of a mountain pass being used by truckers eating coca. The original North Yungas Road between La Paz and Coroico, Bolivia, was the most dangerous route in the world for several years based on fatality stats, but has been replaced in part by a modern road, leaving the original to bicyclists.
Jalalabad Highway, Kabul, Afghanistan
Bad drivers, no law enforcement and the threat of guerilla attack. There may be no more dangerous roads in the world than those surrounding Afghan cities, where U.S. and NATO forces battle frequent Taliban attacks. This video shows what a typical drive beyond the wire of a U.S. base looks like, complete with wrong-way vehicles, thrill-seeking kids and unsecured cargo.