A look at some of the world’s best and worst roads

Over 1.4 billion cars currently travel on roads ranging from small country lanes and quiet backroads to mid-city routes and multi-lane highways. Some, like the ones we drive on every day, make very little impression on us, while others are triumphs of engineering that attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Here are some of the best, and worst.

Where in the world are the best roads?

According to Worldatlas.com, the world’s best quality roads are found in the following 10 countries (scores are out of a possible 7):

  1. United Arab Emirates (6.4)
  2. Singapore (6.3)
  3. Switzerland (6.3)
  4. Hong Kong (6.2)
  5. Netherlands (6.1)
  6. Japan (6.1)
  7. France (6.0)
  8. Portugal (6.0)
  9. Austria (6.0)
  10. United States (5.7)

Stay on these roads

Offering spectacular views and delivering exceptional standards of engineering and design, these three roads are definitely worth investigating for your next road trip.

The Millau Viaduct, France

Technically a road bridge, the breathtaking Millau Viaduct spans the Tarn River Valley and forms a crucial section of the A75 autoroute in southern France. Thirteen years’ worth of research went into this vast structure before construction started in December 2001. The project took just three years to complete at a cost of € 394 million. Hailed as a marvel of modern engineering when it officially opened in December 2004, the Millau Viaduct has received widespread critical acclaim and was awarded the 2006 Outstanding Structure Award by the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering as well as the coveted D&AD Gold Award for design. It holds the record as the tallest bridge in the world at a structural height of 336.4 metres.

The Atlantic Road, Norway

Voted Norway’s ‘Engineering Feat of the Century’ in 2005, the picturesque Atlantic Road “connects Averøy with the mainland via a series of small islands and islets spanned by a total of eight bridges over 8274 meters.” (Visitnorway.com) Serious planning of the road began in the 1970s, with construction eventually getting underway in August 1983. The road was officially opened in July 1989 and cost 122 million Norwegian krone (NOK) to complete. If you’re ever fortunate enough to drive this spectacular road, which has been classified as a National Tourist Route, make sure it isn’t during storm season, when massive waves are known to pound the stretch that runs next to the ocean. 

The Overseas Highway, Florida

Also referred to as ‘The Highway that Goes to Sea’, this 181.9 km road, which includes 42 steel and concrete bridges, allowed US Route 1, which previously ended in Miami, to continue through the Florida Keys, providing tourists with access to Key West. Construction began in the late 1930s and much of the road was “built on the former right-of-way of the Overseas Railroad, the Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway” which suffered massive damage in the 1935 Labor Day hurricane. The highway was first completed in 1938. 

Where in the world are the worst roads?

According to Autoguide.com (their list is based on the World Health Organisation’s Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015 interactive map), the world’s 10 most dangerous countries to drive in (scores are based on average road deaths per 100 000 people) are:

  1. Libya (73.4)
  2. Thailand (36.2)
  3. Malawi (35)
  4. Liberia (33.7)
  5. Democratic Republic of the Congo (33.2)
  6. United Republic of Tanzania (32.9)
  7. Central African Republic (32.4)
  8. Iran (32.1)
  9. Rwanda (32.1)
  10. Mozambique (31.6)

Roads (best) less travelled

Some roads are meant for the brave among us. These are three of them.

Old Yungas Road, Bolivia

Given its grim nickname, ‘Death Road’, it seems only fitting that the 3.5-metre-wide, sharp-turn-riddled Old Yungas Road make this list – you’ll find it on many similar lists too. As it negotiates the Cordillera Oriental mountain chain between La Paz and Coroico in western Bolivia, “Yungas road first climbs to 4,650 meters at La Cumbre Pass and then makes a steep descent to the town of Coroico, at an altitude of only 1,200 meters. This drop of over 3,650 meters is one of the longest stretches of continuous downhill road in the world. By some estimates, between 200 and 300 people die a year on the road.” (Atlasobscura.com) Enough said.

Mumbai, India

According to a 2019 article on Businesstoday.in, “Mumbai is India’s most car-congested city with 510 cars per kilometre.” Small wonder then that in the same year, “road mishaps killed 447 people” in the city. (Hindustantimes.com) As for which of its roads are the most dangerous, according to a study cited on Indianexpress.com, some of the deadliest roads in Mumbai include the Ghatkopar-Mahul Road, the Balasaheb Thackeray Flyover in Jogeshwari and the Vasantdada Patil Marg in Ghatkopar.

Arc de Triomphe, France

Ever visited this Paris landmark? If so, you’ll know exactly why it has to be included here. With 12 roads entering the roundabout, and no lanes marked out on the tarmac (although there can be as many as 10 cars driving alongside one another at any given moment), this is definitely not a place for nervous drivers! In fact, so crazy is the roundabout that according to this blog article, “If there is an accident here, each driver is considered equally at fault. This is the only place in Paris where the accidents are not judged. No matter what the circumstances, insurance companies split the costs fifty-fifty. In Paris, a good driver gets only scratches, not dents.” 

Do you have a road-building project in mind?

Lithon has designed, executed and rehabilitated several large-scale roads in Namibia, including the Windhoek-Rehoboth Carriageway and the Husab Mine Access Road. We’d love to discuss your next project with you – please feel free to get in touch with a member of our team today.