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Alabama’s ‘Highway to Hell’ named one of the world’s most dangerous roads

Photo of the old alignment of US 431 between Pittsview and Barbour County line
Photo of the old alignment of US 431 between Pittsview and Barbour County line

US Highway 431, a 353 mile stretch of road running from the Alabama-Tennessee line down to Dothan, Ala. and commonly referred to as the “Highway to Hell,” has just been named one of the world’s most dangerous roads.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released their annual “Global status report on road safety” for 2013. According to WHO, the study “presents information on road safety from 182 countries, accounting for almost 99% of the world’s population. The report indicates that worldwide the total number of road traffic deaths remains unacceptably high at 1.24 million per year. Only 28 countries, covering 7% of the world’s population, have comprehensive road safety laws on five key risk factors: drinking and driving, speeding, and failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints.”

The red line is Alabama's "Highway to Hell" (click to enlarge)
The red line is Alabama’s “Highway to Hell” (click to enlarge)

Using the data from the WHO study, DrivingExperiences.com set out to create an interactive map featuring the world’s most dangerous and deadliest roads. Each road is rated on a “fear factor” scale of 1-10. The final map features 22 of the world’s most hazardous roadways.

Alabama’s US 431 was given a 4 out of 10 on the “fear factor” scale. DrivingExperiences.com said the primary hazards on the highway are “poor visibility, high speeds and sudden 2-4 lane changes.” There were 33,808 road death in the United States last year, and US 431 was the country’s 4th most deadly road.

Here’s what else DrivingExperiences.com had to say:

Nicknamed the “Highway to Hell”, U.S. Route 431 running through Alabama is littered with crosses in memory of all the lives lost on this deadly section of road.

Voted one of “America’s Deadliest Highways” by Readers Digest in 2000, Route 431 is plagued by hazards including poor visibility, sudden 2-4 lane changes and speeding, all of which contribute to poor decision making and ultimately road fatalities.

Since 2006 the state of Alabama has worked hard to make the road safer for motorists, by widening dangerous stretches and increasing road patrols by State Troopers.

But as bad as 431 is, it can’t hold a candle to North Yungas Road in Bolivia, South America. “Death Road,” as it is known, received a 10 out of 10 on the “fear factor scale” with an absurd annual death toll of 1,294.

For a look at the rest of the world’s deadliest roads, check out the interactive map below.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims