It caught me unaware, but motor vehicle crashes…not crime or terrorism…are the No.1 killer of healthy Americans in foreign countries. “And the threat to travelers is poised to increase dramatically as worldwide economic growth gives more people access to motor vehicles.” So says USA Today yesterday.
State Department data show that travelers should be particularly concerned in Mexico. In the three years ended in 2006, at least 280 Americans lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes in Mexico, the nation Americans visit most. Americans’ experience in Canada resulted in 11 deaths for the same 2004-2006 period, but the number of tourists was also slightly less.
Mexican taxis and buses often do not comply with traffic regulations and are not always well maintained. One of Mexico’s most dangerous roads that made the list is Highway 1, a winding, narrow, potholed road from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas that lacks guard rails, shoulders, and road signs.
The article lists the world’s most dangerous roads, which is a subject I find fascinating. Previously, I’ve posted blogs on the Old Yungas Road in Bolivia that is a 50-mile mountain road connecting Coroico to La Paz. Heights one give me the willies and these pictures don’t help. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, this is the worst road in the world. You can see lots of pictures of it here on Dark Roasted Blend. There are links on links so visit them all.
The Old Yungas Road is aptly called “The Road of Death”. Avi Abrams wrote the following in November, 2006: North Yungas Road is hands-down the most dangerous in the world for motorists. If the previous road is just impassable, this one clearly endangers your life. It runs in the Bolivian Andes, 70 km from La Paz to Coroico, and plunges down almost 3,600 meters in an orgy of extremely narrow hairpin curves and 800-meter abyss near-misses. A fatal accident happens there every couple of weeks, 100-200 people perish there every year. In 1995 the Inter-American Development Bank named the La Paz-to-Coroico route “the world’s most dangerous road.” Along the route there are many visible reminders of accidents, wreckages of lorries and trucks that lie scattered around at the bottom.
Others making the ASIRT list are: Brazil, Interstate 116; China, Sichuan-Tibet Highway; Costa Rica, Pan American Highway; Croatia, Coastal roads; Ecuador, Cotopaxi Volcan road; England A44; Peru, Kuelap-Celendin-Cajamarca road; Scotland A77.
Dark Roasted Blend includes one that isn’t on the list, but appears it should be: Scroll down to Russian Siberian Road to Yakutsk.
This is the official federal-government highway to Yakutsk, and it is also the only one to get there. As there are no other roads, the intrepid motorists are doomed to wallow in this dirt, or wait in week-long 100 km car line-ups (they say women even gave birth there while waiting). This can turn into a major humanitarian disaster during rainy spells, when the usual clay covering of the road turns into impassable mud blanket, swallowing trucks and tractors alike. In the meantime the city has to partly airlift food products.