Ever been stuck in one of those blindingly hot, summer traffic jams on the New Jersey turnpike? How many games of "20 Questions" did you get through with your passengers (hopefully you had at least one) before you thought that you might abandon your vehicle in the middle of the road? Well next time it happens, find comfort in the fact that, though it may be hard to believe, it could indeed be worse. We've compiled a list of those cities that everyone is talking about as most deserving of the "Worst Place to Drive" award. Although many of the cities below are well-loved places to visit and discover, the masses tend to agree that you should forego the rental car and find an alternative to getting around while you're there.
Just because you'll undoubtedly want to tear your hair out while driving in these cities doesn't mean that you won't walk away from the journey to talk about it. In thinking about why these cities made the list, they cannot really be labeled the most dangerous places to drive according to the number of vehicle related fatalities per capita per year, but they do indeed have their fair share of unsafe driving habits.
So here you have them: in no particular order, the most annoying, most frustrating, downright worst places to drive in the world are...
Although driving rules and laws do in fact exist in Beijing, the foreigner often finds this hard to believe as the flow of traffic seems random, confusing and above all, dangerous. The reigning problem here, however, seems to be the amount of traffic congestion. Beijing has over five million registered cars blocking up the roadways all over the city. The best example of this issue goes back to 2010 during the infamous China National Highway Traffic Jam when cars were backed up for over 60 miles and drivers were stuck, in some cases, for several days. Thankfully, Beijing has been making efforts to clear some of the traffic congestion by setting up alternating travel days for car owners.
Seoul, South Korea
As with many of these other locations, drivers in Seoul are in a hurry and prefer to drive with forceful intention. It is not uncommon to see motorcyclists driving on the sidewalks, illegal as it may be. It seems many of the road laws that pertain to lane markings and changes are seen as suggestions rather than specific guidelines, so constant attention is a must when driving on the city streets. What's more (surprise, surprise), parking is a near disaster in this city.
The ever-lovely city of Paris is often referred to as the City of Lights. What they don't tell you, however, is that those lights are mostly bright red tail lights. It is usually advised to avoid driving in this city if you can help it. Parking is often a big reason for the headaches, as there is little space and lots of competition. What's more, the French use many traffic roundabouts, but they hardly ever seem to include lane markings and therefore drivers navigate them in sudden, and sporadic movements. Luckily for its visitors, this city has a top-notch public transportation system.
Driving in the picturesque italian countryside is a truly romantic image, but don't be fooled by that fantasy when it comes to the capital. Drivers in Rome are aggressive and seem to be proud of it. Like many others, this city has gone through some traffic changes and those who live in the city have put in place their own road guidelines outside of what official driving laws dictate. Any new driver in Rome would have to go through a trial period of unlearning everything he has ever known about road laws just to get around. Luckily for its visitors, tourists are not legally allowed to drive in what's called the "ZTL" or "Zona a Traffico Limitato", which includes much of the city, so save your rental cars for the italian countryside, unless you want to pay a heap of fines.
Although a recent article in Times of India claims that Mumbai is now one of the safest cities to drive in the country, countless stories from individuals who have driven elsewhere would discount this statement. In India, the road is shared by many, and this sometimes includes animals. Cows, a sacred animal in Hinduism, always get the right of way, so be wary of running into one while on the road. What's more, many of the roadways in India are of questionable quality with several lanes of poorly paved and tarnished road. Do not be surprised if you see several individuals clinging onto the back of a van or hatchback vehicle while its speeding down the path. These awkward, high-occupancy vehicles are a common occurrence in India. Last of all, people love to lay on their horns in India, which makes it a very noisy travel experience.
Toronto has many things to offer its visitors, but an exciting and fun driving experience is not one of them. The Toronto area is home to a portion of one of the largest and most congested highways known as highway 401. This massive roadway stretches 18 lanes across at its widest and it can be a nightmare to navigate for those who don't know their way around. As if it needs mentioning, this highway at the busiest time of day is anything but a vacation. To top it all off, passing on the right is legal on the highways, contrary to driving laws in many other cities, so knowing where you're entering and exiting well in advance is essential.
Pedestrians always having the right of way may seem natural to drivers in America, but this concept is not so intrinsic in Manila. Unfortunately, this means that driving and crossing roadways on foot are both treaturous territory in this city. If you're not native to the Philippines, chances are good that you will be left with the blame in a roadway incident. What's more, there is a coding system put in place which designates who is allowed to operate a vehicle on certain days and who isn't, making this place even more confusing for its drivers.
Finding well paved roadways is a difficult feat in the city of Lagos so be weary of large potholes in your route. Similarly, many traffic signs off of the main roads are completely hidden, whether on purpose or simply overtaken by brush, so driving unknowingly down one way streets or "Do Not Enter" spaces is a cause for concern. It is rumored that many of the drivers on the roads of Lagos never actually attended driving school, which makes the unkept roads even more dangerous as road rules fluctuate with the drivers on the road.
While some individuals may go years without ever knowing that the city of Ulaanbaatar exists, many others know of it for its infamy in the realm of poor driving conditions. These sorry road conditions are a large part of the problem, but the lack of traffic signals makes for a whole new breed of bad driving. To top it all off, the lack of roadways in the city makes for an upward scaling amount of congestion as well. This city's roads seem to embody the perfect storm of terrible driving: low quality and overcrowded.
One of the most difficult things about driving is Athens is having to play hide-and-seek with the road signs. Drivers have noted that this information can sometimes only be found in extremely obscure locations, including high up on the sides of buildings, and is often hidden by one obstruction or another. One important distinction to make is that while in America flashing your headlights at another car usually means "go ahead," it inversely seems to mean "get out of the way!" in Athens. Lastly, motor cyclists are responsible for many of the roadway incidents in Athens as they often weave between cars on the road ignoring the existence of lanes altogether.
Happy traveling, everyone! Now would be a great time to start researching walking routes...