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Worst Ever Traffic Jams Around the World

February 24, 2016

Everyone hates being held up in traffic. Traffic jams routinely delay us but imagine being stuck in traffic for days! Being trapped on a highway with vehicles backed up for miles. Here’s our compilation of the world’s worst traffic jams.

Beijing, China

When – October, 2015

Beijing is one of the most populous cities of the world but the end of the Golden Week, a week-long holiday in the PRC, turned into a nightmare for all those headed back home to Beijing. Estimates for the week predicted that there would be 7 million cars on Beijing streets and connecting highways that week. Thousands of cars were caught up in a massive traffic jam on the G4 Beijing-Hong Kong-Macau Expressway when a new checkpoint forced 50 lanes of cars to merge into 20 lanes causing a bottleneck. Traffic was backed up for miles and millions were stuck for hours unable to move either way.

Moscow, Russia

When – November, 2012

The 125-mile traffic back up in the Moscow-St. Petersburg Highway (M10) in November 2012 was like nothing drivers had ever seen. For a stretch of about 85 to 120 miles, cars and trucks inched through three feet of snow. The highway connecting Russia’s two most populous cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg, became a complete nightmare. What made things worse was the lack of assistance, fuel, and other amenities en route. People stuck in the jam took to social media to vent their outrage for the three-day long jam.

Chicago, Illinois, US

When – February, 2011

The North American winter storm blizzard hit in late January – early February 2011 and caused much havoc. The Chicago area was one of the worst affected in the country. The city was buried under about 20 inches of snow from the sudden onset of the blizzard during rush hour, and the ensuing traffic jam was one of the worst ever in the world. As temperatures continued to fall, drivers started to abandon their vehicles seeking safety in nearby buildings. Chicago was soon turned into a “graveyard of cars”.

Sao Paulo, Brazil

When – June 2009

Not only is São Paulo Brazil’s largest city, it is also among the most populous cities of the world. At the best of times, the city is a driver’s nightmare. According to a report in the Forbes Magazine (2013), the city experiences an average of 112 miles (total across the city) of traffic jam on Friday evenings. In June 10, 2009, Sao Paulo experienced a 182-mile long back up of traffic when a logging truck blocked a main arterial road in an accident. Imagine what Brazilian drivers experience each day if a simple accident such as this can cause one of the world’s worst jams.

Houston, Texas, US

When – September, 2005

Hurricane Rita, a Category 5 storm, had caused immense damage to the US. It also caused one of the worst traffic holdups in the world. People of Houston were issued an evacuation warning and about 2.5 million Texans rushed to leave the city on September 22, 2005. The city did not have a proper evacuation plan and most people ended up in a 100 mile long traffic holdup along all major expressways leaving the city, especially on Texas Interstate 45. Medical emergencies, lack of fuel, and road rage added to the problems causing one of the worst traffic jams known to mankind.

Tokyo, Japan

When – August 12, 1990

O-bon is the Japanese festival for the Dead. Most families in the country gather or take holidays during the festival and visit places where their ancestors are buried. Most families in Tokyo, the capital of Japan leave town to visit their villages and towns. On August 12, 1990, evacuees fleeing a typhoon in the outskirts of Tokyo, along with families heading out to their holidays, clogged the highway between Hyogo and Shiga (west Japan) causing one of the worst traffic jams ever. The 84-mile long back up kept most of the families in the cars instead of getting to their loved ones.

East- West Germany

When – April 1990

The fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, was one of the most significant events in post World War II Germany. East Germans were finally free to go across to the West and meet friends and family. In April 1990, the Easter weekend, this freedom translated into one of the worst traffic jams of the world. East Germans chose the traditional family holiday to drive down to the West and on April 12, 1990, some 18 million cars were stuck in the highway that went across the border. Certainly not how East Germans would have preferred to spend their holiday.

Lyon to Paris, France

When – February 16, 1980

The French expect a bit of a traffic jam even on ordinary days. Holiday season does seem to be a test of a driver’s patience, especially in the French capital Paris. The one traffic jam that France is unlikely to forget in a hurry was in February 1980 when thousands of cars attempted to return home to Paris after a skiing holiday in Lyon. Compounded by poor weather conditions, this caused one of the worst traffic jams in history. This particular congestion was about 109 miles long and held the record for being the longest traffic jam for a long time.

Woodstock (Bethel), New York, US

When – August, 1969

Between August 15 to 17, 1969, Max Yasgur’s farm in New York state played host to the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, better known as the Woodstock Festival. What was intended to be 3 days of Peace and Harmony had one unfortunate fallout – one of the worst traffic jams in the world. Over 400,000 people arrived at the dairy farm between August 14 and August 18. The New York State Thruway had to be completely shut down. No untoward incident was reported despite the crowd and the Hendrix-crazed audience and the traffic dissipated peacefully.

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