If you happen to drive on the most perilous roads of the world, you would certainly need a good car to negotiate the corners and the sharp bends. And the world does have its more than fair share of challenging roads, you know, the kind of roads that send chills down your spine, the kind of roads, which, if you miss the edge by a hairline, would send you plunging down to a certain death. Before we see these roads, let’s find out just what happens when a car negotiates a corner.
A car will rotate on its vertical axis when handling corners. Some manuals say not to brake when you are at the corner but to brake before you get to the corner. But that is on a good road. On a bad road, a little oversteer or understeer could mean the difference between life and death. Of course, how you steer is also affected by other factors like the condition of the weather, the condition of the road and even the type of car you are driving.
Heavier cars are known to handle corners and bends well at speed while lighter cars can tip over on two wheels when steered at speed. The secret to driving safely on these challenging roads? Know your car, its capabilities and how it handles under pressure. Don’t be a maverick because these roads are no rodeo. Only the very careful survive.
Bolivia’s Death Road
Christened the Most Dangerous Road in the world by the Inter-American Development Bank in 1995, 69km stretch of danger from La Paz to Coroico, the North Yungas road is a challenge to any driver. There are crosses marking the spots where 200 to 300 people have died every year on the road.
The Arica to Iquique Road
This one is in Chile and winds into very deep valleys. Among the most memorable road marks that you will see include skeletons of vehicles that plunged off the deep end. You will also find that many drivers on this road drive fast, but that doesn’t mean you emulate them especially if it your first time to drive on the road. The scenery is hauntingly isolated and therefore you are advised to avoid admiring it, lest you get lured by mirages . Keep your eyes on the road, and you should do just fine.
Jalalabad to Kabul Road
There are a sheer and dangerous 65 km that passes through the Taliban territory. But the Taliban will not get you because if you are not careful enough, I mean extra careful, you will not make it. The winding narrow road that climbs and goes down chilling gorges, the careless Afghan drivers who seem to have a death wish and enjoy it at the same time can send you flying out of the road to canyons in the blink of an eye. So… just don’t blink that eye lest it be your last, you hear?
How about the widow maker for the name of a killer road?
Compared to other roads that cause hundreds of deaths every year, 34 fatal or serious road accidents in 3 years may not seem much, but to Britain they are. This road makes widows as husbands on motorcycles come out to enjoy the wide open spans of road and land, never to go back home. Steep rises, sheer drops, sharp corners and bends make this road passing through the Peak District as one of the most treacherous in Britain.
Important car checks before you hit the road
First, get a good car. This will make all the difference for you when you are driving out there. Heavy suspension, limited body roll, find a car that has a lowered front end and a raised back end because that combination reduces oversteer and understeer.
The front shock absorber should be softer while you keep the rear shock absorber stiffer. The front tires should have large surface area for more ground contact while the rear tires should have a smaller contact area.
We could go on and on, talk about weight distribution, driver positioning and so on, but you know what … even if you drive The Beast, Cadillac 1 carelessly, it would still kill you. The buck for your road safety stops with you, not with the road.