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10 dangerous roads: new heights for safe driving

A Chinese road that does not tolerate mistakes. (Photo: Fotolia / aloph )

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Kate Mann
Kate Mann
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Improved road safety will be one of the biggest benefits of fully automated cars. However, certain journeys present more hazards than others. From mountain passes to desert highways – these ten road trips put a new spin on risk assessments.

Automated vehicles use groundbreaking and innovative technology to reduce accidents and improve the safety of roads. All roads.

With this in mind, we decided to take a look at some of the most dangerous roads around the world and see how the different features of automated vehicles could make them less daunting. Caveat: this may not apply to those with a fear of heights!

10. The Atlantic Ocean Road, Norway

Photo: Fotolia / forcdan

This road looks more like a rollercoaster. Passing through the Norwegian sea, it zig-zags between small islands and rocky outcrops through a series of bridges. The good news is that automated cars will know exactly when to slow down before a bend, making the whole experience much smoother.

9. The Halsema Highway, Philippines

Photo: Fotolia / simon gurney

A mountain road in the Cordillera Central range, this highway is the highest in the Philippines. The rainy season presents huge problems for drivers, as parts of the road can become extremely difficult to maneuver. With steep drops to the valley below, this is not one for the faint-hearted. Good tires are essential: with sensors in place to carry out quality checks for each one, you can be assured that your automated car will be in top condition for the challenge.

8. Passage de Gois, France

Photo: Fotolia / graphlight

Connecting the island of Noirmoutier to the mainland, the Passage de Gois causeway is only accessible for a few hours a day. The rest of the time it is underwater. Good timekeeping will remain important, but automated vehicles can also provide an active update on the road before you set off. Your toes should stay dry!

7. Rodovia da Morte, Brazil

Photo: Cacobianchi

Poor weather conditions and steep drops are just some of the problems facing drivers using the “Rodovia da Morte” (“Road of Death”). Even more problematic are the armed bandits and gangs waiting for you along the way. Fortunately, future automated cars will be able to communicate with each other, meaning a vehicle will not only be aware of visible obstacles, but possibly also of other dangers lurking around the corner.

6. Ruta 5, Arica to Iquique Road, Chile

Photo: Fotolia / JeremyRichards

This road passes through one of the driest places on Earth, the Atacama Desert. The biggest risk? Boredom. The long drive is broken up only by small graves and crosses. Strong winds have also been reported to blow cars and trucks off the road. Automated vehicles will not only reduce the risk of drivers over-correcting for gusts of wind, they will also provide a solution to the problem of monotony. In the future you’ll be able to watch a film whilst on the road, or even take a nap!

5. Col du Petit St Bernard, Italy

Photo: muneaki

This one we could not resist. This famous road was featured in the opening scene of the 1969 classic film, the Italian Job. Luckily the risks involved here were fictional. Unless you are planning to bring down Turin’s traffic system and intercept a large amount of gold, you should be fine. Although take care on those Alpine bends, particularly if driving a getaway bus. Maybe the next remake of the film will feature driverless cars?

4. The James Dalton Highway, Alaska

Photo: Fotolia / porbital

Built in just five months following the discovery of oil in Prudhoe Bay, this Arctic highway provides access to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. The road is extremely isolated with very few places to stock up on supplies along the 666 km route. Warm clothes, emergency snacks and a survival kit are essential to endure the harsh conditions. Luckily, an intelligent car will be able to remind you to stock up on fuel or charge up before you head off.

3. The Guoliang Tunnel Road, China

Photo: Fotolia / aloph

Carved along the side of a mountain, the road is recognizable by the different shaped windows that line the tunnel. Built with hammers and chisels by local villagers, the windows were used to remove the generated rubble. The road is very difficult to drive; its name translates to the “road that does not tolerate any mistakes”. The 360° surround view provided by cameras in automated vehicles could prove extremely useful on this one.

2. Skippers Canyon Road, New Zealand

Photo: Fotolia / naruedom

Cut in the middle of a sheer cliff face, this road is so narrow that cars sometimes have to reverse for several kilometers before they are able to pass one another. Built during the gold rush, today the road is a popular tourist destination. However, take note: no insurance is willing to cover rental cars on this road! Vehicle-to-vehicle communication could save a lot of time. If at a good point to pass, it would be possible to check if anyone was coming the other way before continuing.

1. North Yungas Road, Bolivia

Photo: Fotolia / mezzotint_fotolia

This single-track road, known as “El Camino de la Muerte” (the way of death), winds its way through the Andes. Problems arise when two cars travelling in the opposite direction meet. Without any guardrails, clipping a wing mirror is the least of possible concerns. Ultrasonic sensors (positioned in all four corners of the car) could provide a huge help by letting you know just how far away that edge is. Blind spots will also be a thing of the past. Phew!

Did we miss somewhere on our list? Have you driven on a dangerous road and maybe wished for an automated car to take over for you? Share your experiences in the comment section!

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