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Eight of the World’s Worst Countries to Drive In

Not everyone considers the driving conditions of a foreign country before they choose to travel to the destination, but they should. It is not always possible to rely completely on public transportation everywhere you travel. Sometimes you simply have to drive. Eight of the worst countries to drive in if you are going on a road trip. Check out this list of places for travelers on the road and why worst.

It is safer to understand the driving conditions of a country before you pay for that rental car. Sometimes simply crossing the street can be a hazardous move, and even the most knowledgeable of car accident lawyers may not be around to help. Stay in the know, and check out this shortlist of a few of the worst countries for travelers on the road.

Travelers On The Road

Worst Places to Drive in the World

Namibia

Namibia presents a unique challenge for drivers, with a staggering statistic of 45 fatal crashes per 100,000 people annually, marking it as the most perilous country for road travel. The vast, open landscapes of Namibia, while breathtaking, hide the dangers of its roadways. Many of the roads outside urban centers are gravel or dirt, requiring vehicles and drivers capable of handling rough conditions.

The unpredictability of these roads, coupled with the potential for extreme weather conditions, such as heavy fog in coastal areas and blinding dust storms inland, exacerbates the risks. Additionally, wildlife crossing these remote roads can lead to unexpected hazards, especially outside of daylight hours.

The infrastructure in Namibia is also a contributing factor to its dangerous driving conditions. While main roads in cities and between major towns are generally in good condition, secondary roads often lack proper maintenance and signage. This situation is compounded by the fact that emergency services may be hours away in the event of an accident, given the country’s sparse population and vast distances between settlements.

Tourists should prepare thoroughly before embarking on road trips, including ensuring their vehicle is suitable for all terrains and that they are equipped with emergency supplies and communication devices. 

Related Read: The Best Cars for Road Trips

Thailand

Thailand’s roads are among the most hazardous, with a fatality rate of 44 deaths per 100,000 people annually. The country’s bustling cities and scenic rural areas are marred by road conditions that are far from ideal for the unwary driver.

In urban areas, the roads are often poorly maintained and inadequately marked, leading to confusion and dangerous driving conditions. Overcrowding is a significant issue, with cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians vying for space. This congestion, combined with a general disregard for traffic laws, makes urban driving in Thailand a daunting task for even the most experienced drivers.

Rural driving in Thailand presents its own set of challenges. Many roads outside of major cities are narrow and winding, with limited visibility around bends. The lack of street lighting in rural areas further increases the risk of accidents after dark.

Additionally, the driving behavior in Thailand is known for its unpredictability, with sudden lane changes and overtaking on blind curves being common practices. Tourists driving in Thailand are advised to exercise extreme caution, avoid driving at night, and familiarize themselves with local driving customs to navigate the country’s roads safely. 

Iran

Iran’s roads are perilous, with an annual fatality rate of 38 deaths per 100,000 people. The country’s diverse geography, from mountainous regions to urban centers, presents varied driving conditions that can be challenging. The U.S. State Department’s advisories highlight the dangers of driving in Iran, emphasizing the need for caution due to the high risk of accidents.

Roads in Iran are often congested, especially in major cities like Tehran, where traffic is dense, and driving behaviors can be aggressive. The combination of high speeds, unpredictable maneuvers by drivers, and inadequate road maintenance contributes to the hazardous conditions.

In rural areas, the challenges are different but equally daunting. Many roads are poorly lit and lack essential safety features such as guardrails and clear signage. Additionally, drivers may encounter unexpected obstacles, including domestic and wild animals on the road, further increasing the risk of accidents.

The presence of sanctions has also impacted the availability and quality of vehicle maintenance and road infrastructure development, exacerbating the dangers of road travel. Visitors who choose to drive in Iran must be highly vigilant, possess comprehensive insurance, and preferably have experience in navigating challenging driving environments. 

Travelers On The Road

Venezuela

Venezuela’s driving environment is notably perilous, with a reported 35 deaths per 100,000 people annually. The country’s political and economic turmoil has severely impacted its infrastructure, leading to roads that are often in disrepair and lacking in essential signage and lighting.

The U.S. State Department’s warnings about the necessity of defensive driving in Venezuela underscore the unpredictable conditions and the additional risks posed by carjackings and other crimes targeting motorists. Urban areas, while bustling and vibrant, are plagued by potholes, erratic drivers, and sometimes a blatant disregard for traffic laws, making navigation challenging for even the most skilled drivers.

Rural driving in Venezuela introduces different hazards, including unmarked road edges, sudden stops by other vehicles, and the presence of livestock on roadways. The scarcity of reliable roadside assistance and emergency services further complicates matters, making breakdowns or accidents in remote areas particularly problematic.

Travelers should undertake journeys during daylight hours, remain on main roads as much as possible, and ensure their vehicles are well-equipped for emergencies. 

Congo

The Congo offers an adventure for the intrepid traveler, but it comes with significant caveats regarding road travel. The country’s infrastructure suffers from years of conflict and neglect, leading to roads that are often in poor condition, inadequately marked, and lacking in basic maintenance.

Travelers venturing into the Congo must navigate a landscape where paved roads are the exception rather than the rule, especially outside urban centers. The presence of military and police roadblocks adds another layer of complexity, with the potential for delays and the necessity of carrying proper documentation at all times.

The challenges of driving in the Congo are compounded by environmental factors, including seasonal rains that can render roads impassable and increase the risk of landslides in hilly areas. The lack of reliable emergency services means that self-sufficiency is crucial for anyone considering a road trip in the Congo.

Travelers should be prepared with a well-maintained vehicle, sufficient supplies, and a solid understanding of the terrain they plan to navigate. 

Related Post: 3 Things To Do If Your Car Breaks Down

Swaziland (Eswatini)

Swaziland, now officially known as Eswatini, presents a unique set of challenges for drivers. The U.S. State Department’s warnings about local driving habits, including excessive speeding and reckless behavior, highlight the risks on the country’s roads. Livestock and other animals on the roadways add unpredictable hazards, especially in rural areas where fencing is rare.

The country’s road network varies in quality, with main roads generally being in good condition but secondary roads often lacking maintenance and proper signage, making navigation tricky for those unfamiliar with the terrain.

Despite its small size, Eswatini’s diverse landscapes, from mountains to savannas, require drivers to be adaptable and cautious. Seasonal weather conditions, such as heavy rains, can quickly change road conditions and lead to flooding, particularly in low-lying areas.

Tourists should drive defensively, be prepared for sudden stops, and avoid driving at night when visibility is reduced, and hazards are more difficult to anticipate.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic‘s traffic conditions are among the most challenging in the Caribbean, with a history of high accident rates that once placed it at the top of the world’s deadliest countries for drivers. Traffic laws exist but are often ignored by local drivers, leading to a driving environment that can seem chaotic to the uninitiated.

Urban areas, particularly Santo Domingo, are notorious for congestion, unpredictable driving behaviors, and a lack of adherence to basic road safety practices, such as using turn signals or respecting pedestrian crossings.

Rural roads in the Dominican Republic offer a different set of challenges, including inadequate maintenance, insufficient lighting, and the presence of motorcycles and bicycles sharing the road with cars and trucks. The country’s natural beauty, with its stunning beaches, mountains, and forests, attracts many visitors who choose to explore by car. However, the combination of challenging driving conditions and the potential for severe weather, especially during the hurricane season, necessitates a cautious approach.

Travelers must familiarize themselves with local driving customs, avoid driving at night, and ensure their rental vehicles are equipped for the country’s varied terrain.


For the most current and accurate information, it’s essential to consult official sources such as national road safety authorities, the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Road Safety, and travel advisories from governments like the U.S. State Department or the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. Conditions can vary widely within countries, and data can change, highlighting the importance of up-to-date verification.

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Last Updated on February 6, 2024

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