Dangerous Roads

OldTimeRadio

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Dangerous Roads

Yes, I'm fairly convinced that there are indeed dangerouys roads and that those dangerous roads exist even without recourse to the Paranormal. Many accidents which happen at given locations, over and over again, are most probably triggered by vision problems or road hypnosis conditions which were dismissed as inconsequential or not even noticed at all by the road designers.

But I'm also convinced of the existence of the Paranormal and that can all add up to some REALLY MALIGNANT thoroughfares.
 

cassandra78

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I think it was in 2004 I saw a programme, possibly Watchdog or something where a woman claimed her car skidded off the road at a slow speed after it had been re-surfaced. They did some research and found the new stuff they used is a cheaper, kind of watered-down (the grit they use is smaller or something) tarmac and hundreds of people had accidents on it. Of course nobody 'official' wanted to admit to it, they just want to keep the cost of re-surfacing down.
 

eyepod

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I once 'spun' a car while exiting a roundabout, bounced off a wall and ended up on the central reservation. When I flagged down a passing police car to come and rescue me the driver said he'd done exactly the same thing in exactly the same spot before, and so had several of his colleagues. I later found out that 2 of my own friends had crashed in the very same place. The road was surfaced in that red tarmac stuff at the time and I'm convinced it was that causing the accidents. The last time I drove past was a couple of years ago, and it had been resurfaced in black, but I've no idea if the accident rate has dropped since then or not.
 

Yithian

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...My own driver - who hardly ever spoke a word and only then in his native Aymara - intoned loudly, eerily and in perfect English..."You will die."

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In one year alone, 25 vehicles plunged off the road and into the ravine. One every two weeks. Choking, blinding clouds obscure the way ahead.

The world's most dangerous road
By Mark Whitaker
BBC News, Bolivia


It seems perverse that one of the main roads out of one of the highest cities on Earth should actually climb as it leaves town.

But climb it does - just short of a lung-sapping five kilometres (three miles) above sea level, where even the internal combustion engine is forced to toil and splutter.

Then it pauses for a while on the snow-flecked crest of the Andes before pitching - like a giant white knuckle ride - into the abyss.

The road from Bolivia's main city, La Paz, to a region known as the Yungas was built by Paraguayan prisoners of war back in the 1930s.

Many of them perished in the effort. Now it is mainly Bolivians who die on the road - in their thousands.

In 1995, the Inter American Development Bank christened it the most dangerous road in the world. And, as you start your descent, and your driver whispers a prayer, you begin to see why.

The bird's eye view is on the left, on the front seat passenger's side, where the Earth itself seems to open up.

Crosses at the roadside mark the locations of fatal accidents.
A gigantic vertical crack appears. Way below, more than half a mile beneath your passenger window, you can see - cradled between canyon walls - a thin silver thread: the Coroico River rushing to join the Amazon.

On the driver's side there is a sheer rock wall rising to the heavens. There is no margin of error. The road itself is barely three metres wide. That is if you can call it a road.

After the initial stretch to the top of the mountain it is just dirt track. And yet - incredibly - it is a major route for trucks and buses.

Hairpin bends

Drivers stop to pour libations of beer into the earth - to beseech the goddess Pachamama for safe passage.

Then, chewing coca leaves to keep themselves awake, they are off at break-neck speeds in vehicles which should not be on any road, let alone this one.

Perched on hairpin bends over dizzying precipices, crosses and stone cairns mark the places where travellers' prayers went unheeded. Where, for someone - the road ended.

But even these stark warnings are all too often ignored. As first one - and then a second impatient motorist - overtook our car on the ravine side of the road, my own driver - who hardly ever spoke a word and only then in his native Aymara - intoned loudly, eerily and in perfect English..."You will die."

It is not a rash prediction to make.

Every year it is estimated 200 to 300 people die on a stretch of road less than 50 miles long. In one year alone, 25 vehicles plunged off the road and into the ravine. That is one every two weeks.

It is the end of the dry season in Bolivia. Soon the rains will come - cascading down the walls of the chasm. Huge waterfalls will drench the road - turning its surface to slime.

Then will come those heart-stopping moments when wheels skid and brakes fail to grip. There are stories told of truckers too tired - or too afraid - to continue, who pull over for the night, hoping to see out an Andean storm. But they have parked too close to the edge. And as they sleep in their cabs, the road is washed away around them.

This is not the place to drop off.

Cliff edge

But for now the road is a ribbon of dust. Every vehicle passing along it churns up a sandstorm in its wake.

Choking, blinding clouds obscure the way ahead. Around one hairpin, a cloud of debris was beginning to clear.

As it did, I could see people milling around in the road. Passengers from one of the overloaded and decrepit buses which run the gauntlet of this road.

It seemed at first that they had got off to stretch their legs, while their driver argued with another vehicle coming in the other direction about who should give way. (Reversing is not something you undertake lightly on a cliff edge.)

It transpired instead though, that the bus driver was dying. Blinded by the dust, he had run into the back of a truck. The bus's steering column had gone through him - severing his legs.

There was nothing anyone could do. Mobile phones do not work here. In any case, who would you call? There are no emergency services.

And no way of getting help through, even if any were to be found. The bus driver bled to death.

We edged past the crumpled bus, and headed on.

Further down the road we passed a spot where a set of fresh tyre tracks headed out into the void. They told their own story.

High in the Andes, they are building a new road. A by-pass, to replace the old one. But this is Bolivia, and already it has been 20 years in the making.

Who knows when it will be complete? Until it is, people will have to continue offering up their prayers, and taking their lives in their hands on the most dangerous road in the world.

Link HERE
 

GNC

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You might have thought the authorities would put up a crash barrier. Or would it be superfluous?
 

Peripart

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I drove up and over the Long Mynd (Shropshire) the other week, and that was quite dodgy by British standards (1 in 4 slope in places, steep drop on one side, barriers little more than a token gesture). But that story, and the accompanying picture, make me feel queasy. Wide roads at sea level for me, every time!

That said, don't be put off - do go and visit the Long Mynd. It's in a lovely part of the country, and the views from the top on a clear day are stunning. Just keep in a low gear, and away from the edge...
 

stu neville

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Same with the Horseshoe Pass near Llangollen. I very, very nearly went off there once in fog, to a mixed public reaction. The views (when not foggy) are inspiring, but it twists and turns a lot so coming down in gloom is a bit exciting.

As for crash barriers on that Bolivian road, who on Earth would they get to install them? There's a 1 in 4 hill near me called Vale Street, and the replacement of a single lamp-post on there verged on a Brunel-scale operation :) (Mr Bubz will bear me out - Totterdown has some streets wherein you marvel that people actually managed to build houses without them sliding down the slope. Driving down them in the winter gets the adrenaline going somewhat.)
 

Kondoru

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Try the road to the Lighthouse at Mull of kintyre.

Check your brakes first.
 

escargot

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The A530, near here, is a bit of an undertaker's favourite.
 

JamesWhitehead

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The A666 always makes me slightly apprehensive. One day I was driving up to Bolton and checked the speedo, only to see that the mileage was 66,666 miles. I kept my eyes on the road, after that, despite a strong urge to see 66,666.66.

It was a quiet day on the road but a road has many days . . . :?
 

escargot

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Yup. When I visit my uncle near Darwen I take careful note of the large signs informing me how many people have been killed on the A666 recently. :shock:
 

EnolaGaia

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I grew up in the southern Appalachians, where there were (and still are ... ) a number of extremely twisty two-lane highways through the mountains. Some of these highways faded as major routes with the advent of the Interstate highway system, and they've turned into lesser-used roads with underground reputations as places to test one's skills. These roads are especially popular among motorcyclists.

Two of the better known such roads are:

The Dragon / Tail of the Dragon bordering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina.

Back of the Dragon in southwest Virginia. I'm quite familiar with this road, because it passes through my family's ancestral home territory, and I've driven it all too many times.
 

EnolaGaia

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A road's engineering has a lot to do with how "dangerous" it is.

Here in the States the oldest roads tend to either have a completely flat or crowned horizontal profile. The crowned roads are ever so slightly higher in the middle and slope to the sides. Both these profiles are the trickiest for handling at high speeds or when there's water (etc.) on the road surface.

Older 2-lane US highways were often remarkably well engineered, with clearly deliberate banking of the curves that made them relatively safe at full speed.

Still, there were certain engineering subtleties that could render curves more or less dangerous.

In my hometown area there were two curves widely known among the teen age hot rodder / motorhead set as "Dead Man's Curve." Both were the scenes of recurring fatal accidents.

My late best friend and I (maniacal drivers in our own right) once spent an afternoon examining and testing both of these fabled death traps. It quickly became apparent that both the Dead Man's Curves shared one feature that made them treacherous. Neither maintained a set radius (amount of "bend" or "turn") throughout the curve. Both required entering the curve matching one radius (placement of the steering wheel) then adjusting one or more times to a different radius once inside the curve. This alone probably explained why people regularly lost control or drifted off the road's edge.
 

PeteS

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I grew up in the southern Appalachians, where there were (and still are ... ) a number of extremely twisty two-lane highways through the mountains. Some of these highways faded as major routes with the advent of the Interstate highway system, and they've turned into lesser-used roads with underground reputations as places to test one's skills. These roads are especially popular among motorcyclists.

Two of the better known such roads are:

The Dragon / Tail of the Dragon bordering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina.

Back of the Dragon in southwest Virginia. I'm quite familiar with this road, because it passes through my family's ancestral home territory, and I've driven it all too many times.

There are a couple of relatively infamous roads in the North of the UK - Woodhead Pass and Snake pass - rise and fall and twist and turn dramatically. Don't know if they do this in the States but in the UK on such roads you get signs on the side of the road stating "X number of people have died on this road since....".

The old post above reminds me of circumstances I came across over 30 years ago. There was a series of accidents with drivers losing control and crashing on a relatively small flat bend in the north west. There was no history of this at this location and no one could explain. An accident investigator was called in and discovered that a flat bed truck loaded with barrels of cooking fat had recently collided with another vehicle and fat had spilled all over the road. The clean up had been insufficient and a greasy residue had remained causing the surface grip to be virtually none existent. The surface had to be dug up and re laid at considerable cost.
 

JamesWhitehead

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One of the most dangerous roads in this region* is said to be the Grane Road, which crosses from Haslingdon to Blackburn. For a short period, one summer, it was my daily commute. It is a picturesque route, rising through a band of coniferous forest out onto bleak moorland, snaking through tiny hamlets. There are very few passing-places, which is said to have encouraged impatient drivers to overtake slow-moving vehicles in unsafe spots. It is impassible in severe winter weather.

In the valley, there is a reservoir, in whose depths lie the ruins of the settlement of Grane, flooded in the 19th Century. It was said to have been a hotbed of vice and illicit liquor-sales, so I always wonder if they warned the inhabitants about the dam! They may have had their revenges since! :cskull:

*Recent headlines include "woman, 22, dies in Grane road horror smash" and "Shocking number of Grane Road speeders."
 

oldrover

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There are very few passing-places, which is said to have encouraged impatient drivers to overtake slow-moving vehicles in unsafe spots

In my experience rural drivers seem unusually willing to do this. Many a time I've been stuck behind someone driving a lot slower than I'd choose to. My solution is to hang back and assess any potential passing place, go for it if it's definitely safe, don't bother if it isn't. Generally some loon carves me up then overtakes the car in front on a blind bend. I don't get it and I hope I never do.
 

Peripart

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A certain section of the A303, the Ilminster bypass, there have been campaigns to improve the safety of this oddly structured 3 lane 'dual carriageway' (3 lanes, not 4, and side by side with no central barrier) since at least 2001.

That is a rather confusing stretch of road - the layout of the lanes seems to change every few hundred yards. Round here (English Midlands), such roads usually have 2 lanes going up hills, to allow cars to overtake slower HGVs, and 1 going down. But in this instance (and I couldn't quite tell whether there were any big hills involved), drivers must be watching out for the lanes to merge as much as they are looking for moving hazards. Not great at all.

Just to be a slight pedant, I think "dual carriageway" refers only to any road where the 2 directions of traffic are separated by a barrier. Thus a motorway is also a dual carriageway, but the A303 above isn't. That said, I may be wrong!
 

oldrover

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Try Tasmanian roads, such as the Midland Highway a major route linking Hobart in the south to Launceston in the north. You'e going along and all seems fine until you see a sign warning you you're bout to 'merge right, or left' with another road. I thought at the time that the new road must the Midland Highway proper and till then we'd been on a really long slip road. I ditched this idea though because it just kept happening, every now and then you'd find your version of the Highway had run out and you were joining another version of it. Sometimes joining into the slow lane others into the fast lane. That's not too bad though because they don't really have a fast lane it's more of a not quite as slow lane, but still. Thank God my mate who knew what he was doing was driving.
 

bugmum

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A certain section of the A303, the Ilminster bypass, there have been campaigns to improve the safety of this oddly structured 3 lane 'dual carriageway' (3 lanes, not 4, and side by side with no central barrier) since at least 2001.

Much as I love the A303 - so much nicer than the M5/M4 - that bit at Ilminster is scary as hell. There's one bit where, if you have a trailer attached, the surface of the road seems to make the car and the trailer bounce at different points, which is rather unnerving.
 

oldrover

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My eife says she went to school st Moona. No idea if I hsve spelled it correct.

We went past Moonah a few times, it's just up from where we were. While we stayed at a place called Battery Point which is a bit further away, we were there to open up the old Beaumaris Zoo grounds on Queen's Domain (not far from Moonah) for National Threatened Species Day. It was a lovely place and I miss it.
 

PeteS

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One of the most dangerous roads in this region* is said to be the Grane Road, which crosses from Haslingdon to Blackburn. For a short period, one summer, it was my daily commute. It is a picturesque route, rising through a band of coniferous forest out onto bleak moorland, snaking through tiny hamlets. There are very few passing-places, which is said to have encouraged impatient drivers to overtake slow-moving vehicles in unsafe spots. It is impassible in severe winter weather.

In the valley, there is a reservoir, in whose depths lie the ruins of the settlement of Grane, flooded in the 19th Century. It was said to have been a hotbed of vice and illicit liquor-sales, so I always wonder if they warned the inhabitants about the dam! They may have had their revenges since! :cskull:

*Recent headlines include "woman, 22, dies in Grane road horror smash" and "Shocking number of Grane Road speeders."
I travelled Grane Road numerous times, but came to the conclusion it was safer to go a longer route.
 

Ghost In The Machine

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My wife used to live in Hobart as a kid. Random fact.
I have an ancestor who was, er... sent to Hobart. (Incendiarist - well not really. Someone else was holding the match but they turned Queen's Evidence). Don't think it was exactly where he wanted to be.

There's a stretch of road near here where my old GP told me he once shot off the road unaccountably and his car ended upsidedown in a field. Luckily, he was unharmed. I've driven past/heard of a few accidents there or close by, as well. Mainly motorcyclists, because it's a major route in to a place where they all meet up, twice a week. It is pretty unremarkable and no obvious reason.

The point where things happen, is just along from a junction - where someone told us, if you look carefully, you see a sort of bump in the road. The bump is in fact a 'lost' Roman road, according to an historian who did a talk we went to. Probably unrelated but still intriguing.
 
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Cochise

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In my experience rural drivers seem unusually willing to do this. Many a time I've been stuck behind someone driving a lot slower than I'd choose to. My solution is to hang back and assess any potential passing place, go for it if it's definitely safe, don't bother if it isn't. Generally some loon carves me up then overtakes the car in front on a blind bend. I don't get it and I hope I never do.
It's normally possible to detect such loons in the mirror. I like you tend to slow down a bit, mainly to give them space to tuck in to when they realise they can't get past both me and the car in front before the oncoming truck arrives.

Of course when i was younger I was the loon :-(
 

oldrover

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It's normally possible to detect such loons in the mirror. I like you tend to slow down a bit, mainly to give them space to tuck in to when they realise they can't get past both me and the car in front before the oncoming truck arrives.

Of course when i was younger I was the loon :-(

Yeah, I do too. Worst place for nutters I know is the road past Trawsfynydd. Plus, last time I drove a wasp got in my jeans.
 
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