Despite the notion that traffic jams are an inescapable fact of urban life, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has gone comfortably accustomed to it. For the fact is, each new traffic jam you find yourself stuck in is an entirely new horrific experience different from the countless others you have had in the past. Each new traffic experience, in a nutshell, is definitely no fun at all.
So imagine your misery and desperation amplified many times over should you find yourself in a traffic jam that counts as one of the world’s worst. The ensuing headache you are bound to experience would not probably even begin to measure to the degree of pain you get from your usual regular commute.
When things go spectacularly bad, their level of awfulness go off the charts. This is exactly what happened in China in August 2010. Drivers plying the Beijing-Tibet Expressway were greeted by heavy construction work, which subsequently turned what was otherwise a three-day commute into an astonishing 11-day traffic hell that stretched for 62 miles from end to end.
Generally regarded as the world’s worst traffic jam ever, this incident in China was an exercise in irony; the construction work on the highway was supposed to ease up traffic. Instead, the accumulation of vehicles, caused in large part by an endless parade of huge trucks carrying construction materials, did not serve to ease up the traffic at all.
In fact, the 11-day ordeal became even more hellish because of enterprising vultures who descended to the site. According to the personal accounts of some of the drivers on the highway, vendors sold drinks and food at hijacked rates. In some instances, drivers who refused to buy were even threatened of having their windshields broken. It was sheer madness.
Before 2010, though, the worst traffic jam ever recorded happened over the course of three days in 1969. Between August 15 and 18, the New York Thruway in the US was clogged with vehicles stretching for 20 miles from end to end. The reason? Approximately 500,000 music lovers drove their way to the Woodstock Music & Arts Festival. This was well beyond the anticipated 50,000 attendees the organizers had hoped for. The traffic on the road was so bad, people were forced to leave their cars on the highway and walk to the venue. To avoid delays, the music performers had to be flown in by helicopter.
In 1990, another monster jam took place, this time in Germany. This was the period when the Berlin Wall fell. Understandably, people from the East and West sides of Germany were eager to reconnect with their families and loved ones. As such, traffic on April 12th swollen up beyond the roads’ usual capacity of half million a vehicles in a day, with the volume of vehicles on that date reaching a whopping 18 million. The result? An equally historic traffic jam.
These are just some of the worst traffic jams in recent history, where no end of police help or advances in road marking paint could help stem the flow of traffic. To be sure, any traffic jam is certainly bound to be a bummer. However, there’s comfort in knowing that the prospect of staying in your car for 11 days in heavy traffic isn’t the norm where you live.