As an airport transfer company, our experienced drivers cover quite a few miles every year and are very familiar with all four corners of the earth, from the most frequently travelled roads, to those 'less travelled'. In this week's blog, we'll be taking a look at a few of those with exceptional characteristics. From the longest, steepest and fastest, to the most dangerous and unpredictable.

Luckily for us, you're in safe hands on this little journey, so strap in and let's get on our way!


Record Breakers

Steepest: Baldwin Street, Dunedin. New Zealand. (38% Gradient)

Baldwin Street is a residential street found in New Zealand in a city called Dunedin and is the steepest road in the world with the certificate from Guinness Book of World Records to prove it. There has been a lot of controversy with its acceptance into the book as it was originally entered with a higher gradient and therefore many questioned whether the road is actually the steepest due to the mix up of figures, however, it does still hold the title as the steepest in the world, and is a test for your brakes!

Also Very Steep(!): Canton Avenue, Pittsburgh. USA. (37% Gradient)

Canton Avenue can be found in Pittsburgh and is the on record the steepest road in the United States with a gradient in some parts of 37%. The road has also been subject to a commercial for Audi A4 where they enlist the help of a freeskier, mountain biker, snowboarder and racing driver. In the advertisement, you see each of the professional race each other down the street as described in the article as the steepest in the world.

Fastest: Autobahn. Germany. (Unlimited)

The German Autobahn is a renowned federal controlled motorway system in Germany. Contrary to popular belief only around half of the Autobahn has an advisory speed limit the rest either has a speed limit dependant on weather conditions or a permanent speed limit but these parts of the Autobahn are usually is urbanized, accident-prone or under construction areas and are well signposted. The total length of the system is around 8,046 miles and counting. It is one of the biggest road networks in the world only falling short of Chinese, American and Spanish systems. This system is the most famous of course, for having unrestricted speed limits in some locations, making it quite an experience to the speed demon!

Longest: Highway 1. Australia. (14,500km)

Highway 1 is Australia's longest road and the second longest in the world according to some sources when compared to the Pan-America Highway (at a huge 48,000km) - unfortunately, the Pan-America Highway is considered a collection of roads, so for this purpose as a continuous stretch, it cannot be considered! Highway 1 circumnavigates Australia and passes through all the major mainland state capitals and is one of the busiest roads in the world with over a million people travelling on a part of it every single day. The views on this road can be absolutely exceptional as it covers almost all of Australia's habitable areas and because of Australia's ranging environments and flora, you have the opportunity to experience so much of Australia's aesthetics.

Widest: 9 de Julio Avenue, Buenos Aires. Argentina.

9 de Julio Avenue is located in Buenos Aires and although it is relatively small in length at 1km, the road is one of the widest in the world with a massive 7 lanes of traffic each way making up 14 lanes all together. The north part of the avenue is connected to Arturo Illia expressway and that connects to the Pan American highway which is the longest road in the world.


Scenic

Stelvio Pass. Italy.

Likely the most famous mountain pass in the world, the Stelvio Pass in Italy boasts an incredible 1808 meters of gradient gain over 48 hairpin bends and a length of 21.5km. Often described as one of the best drives in the world, its difficulty to master mustn't be underestimated with local drivers often being described as 'homicidal' by the tourists they chauffeur through the area. The incredible views are well worth it though!

Amalfi Coast. Italy.

Again, we're back in Italy for another world famous stretch of road. The Amalfi Coast is found in Southern Italy of the Sorrentine Peninsula and is a very popular destination in Italy and the route stretches from Sorrento south to Salerno. The road is famed around the world and has been in many Hollywood films, known for its hairpin turns and amazing coastal views. This stretch of coast is so beautiful that it has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site as a cultural landscape. The coastline has also featured in such games as Forza motorsport 3, Forza motorsport 4 and Gran Turismo 4.

The Atlantic Ocean Road. Norway.

Finally taking a step away from Italy to a lesser known, but still spectacular stretch, we have the Atlantic Ocean Road in Norway. This road is an 8.3km stretch of asphalt which runs across an archipelago of small islands. This road has several causeways, viaducts and bridges and is preserved as a cultural heritage site, and declared frequently as being the world's 'best road trip'. In 2009 it was named as Norway's 'Construction of the Century' and has become quite a tourist attraction since its construction in 2009.

The Blue Ridge Parkway. USA.

The picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway stretches 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina through the Appalachian mountains and boasts an impressive 13million visitors a year. An excellent range of flora lines the parkway, from wildflowers and shrubs to oak and pine trees. Hundreds of iconic landmarks line the route, and sites such as 'The Jumpinoff Rock', 'The Linville Falls' and 'The Glassmine Falls' and attract visitors both nationally and internationally.

Trollstigen. Norway

With steep inclines of up to 10% and 11 hairpin corners this road could have been in any of the other categories, but when it comes to scenery, this is one of the best in the world. With views overlooking the 300-meter Stigfossen waterfalls and an overall elevation of over 850 metres the views, this pass offers of the Reinheimen National Park are other-worldly. Known also as the 'Troll Pass' outside of Norway, the name doesn't quite reflect the beauty this road offers.

Col de Turini. France/Italy.

Known as one of the most scenic drives in the world, the Col de Turini includes a long series of hairpins through the French Alps. The 15.3km stretch covers a 1532 gain of altitude and is frequently used for a stage of the Monte Carlo rally, which makes it an even greater temptation for avid drivers who want to test their skill and experience the road in all its beauty.

Overseas Highway. USA.

A 113-mile straight asphalt highway might not sound like the beginnings of one of the most scenic roads on the planet, but its location is unique. The road is built mostly over the waters of Florida Keys, crossing countless coral and limestone islets along the way. For dramatic sunsets, turquoise waters and one of the most spectacular sets of scenery in the world, look no further.


Twisty Roads

Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road. China.

Located within the Tianmen National Park in the northwestern Hunan province of China this 11km road took eight years to build. A section known as 'Tongtian Avenue' has an incredible 99 turns, many putting you only inches away from deadly steep slopes. At the top there's 'Heaven's Gate' a natural rock arch said to link heaven and earth. For potentially easier access, you could always take the 7km cable car instead?

Paso de los Caracoles. Chile.

Steep gradients twinned with 29 hairpin turns down the side of a Chilian mountain side earn the Paso de los Caracoles a place on this list. Although it takes a lot of patience and skill to navigate, this road is a big tourist attraction and actually doesn't have a single fatality on record - in part due to the high level of maintenance conducted on it.

Three Level Zigzag Road. India.

With over 100 hairpins in just 30km, this is one of the most dizzying, but picturesque roads in the world. Located high in the Himalayan mountains this road used to be a trade route for silk merchants between Tibet and India and reaches a vertigo-inducing altitude of over 11,000 ft above sea level. Arguably home to the best sunrise in Asia, the Three Level Zigzag Road is a real thing of beauty - be careful though, heavy snow and landslides can strike at any time of the year adding some peril and danger to this route.

Col du Chaussy. France.

Whilst not having the most corners, it’s the intensity of the Col du Chaussy that earns its place on this list. 17 hairpins over just a 3km stretch of road see it climb 400m up the famous 'Lacets de Montvernier' section of the pass. This 14km road only has an elevation gain of over a kilometre (not the biggest on the list by far), but be careful! The poor road surface twinned with limited opportunities for two cars to pass one another make this particularly hazardous.


Environmental Hazards

Passage du Gois. France.

We start our environmental hazards with a road famous for periodically flooding. Not because of any bad weather, but simply twice a day at high tide! This stretch of road links Île de Noirmoutier and Beauvoir-sur-Mer, in the area of Vendée in Western France.

Dalton Highway, Alaska. U.S.A.

This 666km (we're not joking, that number's legit!) Alaskan highway is one of the most isolated roads in the world and it's used primarily as a transport route for over 100 trucks a day. The risk? Well, aside from the miles of uninhabited landscape, the snow, ice, hail and frequent storms can cause a lot of issues for drivers who are not well prepared for it.

Guoliang Tunnel Road. China.

This road is carved into the side of, and through, a mountain in the Henan province of China. It took 13 local villagers 5 years to carve through the rock at a rate of only one metre for every three days work. This 1.2km stretch claimed one villagers' life during construction and many since. The name literally translates as 'The road that does not tolerate mistakes'.

Rohtang Pass. India.

For starters, the word Rohtang translates to 'Pile of Corpses'. Why? This mountain pass on the Eastern Panjal Range of the Himalayas not only has unpredictable snowstorms and blizzards but is often hit by landslides and parts of the cliff face falling onto the road. Twin this with a decent amount of traffic and this quickly turns into one of the most dangerous roads in the world.


Danger

Kabul-Jalalabad Highway. Afghanistan.

This 64km gravel highway through Taliban territory has claimed so many lives over the years that most have stopped counting. Since its construction in 1969, it has deteriorated and vehicle wheels often tread the edges of the chasm below whilst cornering. This testing road surprisingly hosts a large amount of traffic due to the road's important function for trade, aid and all transport between Kabul and Jalalabad. Regulars take the precarious corners at ferocious speed and so often bigger vehicles can cause problems for oncoming cars, especially at night - many fall into the ravine below.

North Yungas Road. Bolivia.

Titled 'The World's Most Dangerous Road' by the likes of the BBC and NYTimes, the Bolivian Yungas Road claims between 200 and 300 lives every year. With no guard rails and cliffs of up 2,000ft, the threat is an obvious one. Much of the 64km road is single lane and rain and fog can often severely hamper visibility, especially dangerous when the road turns to mud after sustained precipitation. Originally built in the 1930's by Paraguayan prisoners, the Yungas Road has well earnt its nickname of 'Death Road'.

Commonwealth Avenue. Philippines.

Nicknamed the 'Killer Highway' of the Phillipines, Commonwealth Avenue is the source of hundreds of accidents every year, due mostly to the poor regulations and large amounts of traffic. It's seen numerous deaths over the years, but due to it's high traffic volumes, the death rate isn't too high. Accidents, on the other hand, occur on average 5 times a day on what is the widest and busiest road in the Phillipines.

BR-116. Brazil.

The BR-116 highway is known as both 'The Highway to Hell' and 'The Highway of Death'. This is the second biggest road in Brazil at over 4,000km in length spanning the East coast of the country. The reason this road is dangerous is partly down to the demanding work schedules of the truckers who routinely use it, but part down to the twisty, blind turns which really do test the concentration levels of even the most alert drivers.

Narnga Parbat Pass. Pakistan.

Nice name right? This 16.2km unmaintained gravel track is barely the width of a Jeep, with no guard rails, and gets narrow enough at the end that it can only be traversed by walking or biking… At 3,300 metres above sea level, this unstable, narrow road will test concentration, skill and fortune to traverse successfully. This road hasn't had any maintenance since it was built hundreds of years ago by local villagers and is so perilous that it's only opened during the Summer whilst the weather is fair and mild as to not compound its difficulty further.

Sichuan-Tibet Highway. China.

This 2,142km stretch of Chinese Road hosts some of the most spectacular views in the world, but they come at a price. Notoriously difficult weather conditions are often the decisive factor, with the loose dirt track quickly turning to deep mud in downpours and causing landslides across the mountainous terrain. Snow can hit parts of the road for up to ten months of the year and deaths have doubled over the last 20 years as more and more attempt to take advantage of the views it has to offer. In 2011 it claimed 16 lives in one go as a coach veered into a deep ravine off of one of its 99 hairpin bends.

A18: From Laceby to Ludborough, Lincolnshire. U.K.

Okay, this might not be one of the most 'dangerous roads in the world', but, it is, in fact, the most dangerous road in the U.K., and so, gains an honourary mention on our list for that. This 10 miles stretch has been the location of 17 fatal crashes in just a two year period between 2011-2013, according to a report by the Road Safety Foundation. So, if you're travelling around Lincolnshire, maybe consider a different route if you can? It just might not be worth the risk!!!

 

John Blair

30/04/2017 20:36:19

Very interesting article great read.

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