5 of the world's most dangerous roads
Carjacking is so common in South Africa that residents can legally attach small flamethrowers to cars to repel carjackers. (Gallo Images / SuperStock)
Regardless how "streetwise" you are at home, "streetwise" means something very different when the streets you're traveling are unlit or risky ribbons of roads, clinging to a cliff top. In many parts of the world, roads are poorly maintained and you'll have to share the lane with beasts, bikes, and abandoned vehicles. Even here in America, there are places where drivers should pay extra attention to the road. . We wanted to get to the bottom of exactly where caution should be taken, and found five places with perils you may not have ever considered, from South American back roads with poor track records to the most dangerous driving destinations in the U.S. So, whichever direction you're headed in, buckle up and have a safe trip.
Carjacking capital of the world
South Africa has some of Africa's most beautiful coastline, a stunning subtropical climate, and an abundance of wildlife. It also has one of the world's highest rates of carjackings. According to police statistics, 10,627 carjackings occurred in the country of 50 million last year—half in tiny Gauteng Province, home to Johannesburg and Pretoria. But before you cancel your flight, keep in mind that most victims are not seriously injured and that there are things you can do to decrease your carjacking odds. The situation is so dire that residents can legally attach small flamethrowers to cars to repel carjackers (this is definitely not standard on rental cars). Less extreme precautions include watching for signs marking "carjacking blackspots or hotspots," keeping doors locked while driving, and not stopping for apparent accidents, vehicles that have broken down, or even cars with blue lights—they're not necessarily police. Weigh up whether to stop at red lights in high-risk areas, especially at night; risk a fine instead of a hijack. More than 8.3 million people visited South Africa last year, over 432,000 of them from the Americas. Well over a third of those visitors from the Americas were repeat visitors, proving South Africa's appeal outweighs its potential risks.
Mississippi is at the bottom of the list in the U.S. when it comes to safe roads. (Jeremy Woodhouse / SuperStock)
The nation's most dangerous roads
If you're making for Mississippi, slow down and buckle up. Statistically, with almost 27 road deaths per 100,000 Mississippians, the state languishes at the bottom of the list in the U.S. when it comes to safe roads. Unlit rural roads, high speeds, and lack of seatbelt usage are prime culprits. More than half of those who died on Mississippi's roads in 2010 were not wearing a seatbelt and, according to a Reader's Digest study, Mississippi was one of the deadliest states due to speeding. It is also one of 11 states where texting while driving is not against the law (though it is illegal if you are driving with a learning permit or temporary license). The state senate approved bans on texting as well as using handheld phones while driving in 2011, but the bills were rejected by the House Judiciary Committee in July 2012.