Sunday, November 08, 2009

Danger and Fear

I have a confession to make, I like to read travelogues about danger and hardship, especially from the comfort of my armchair. I was recently googling up the Yungas Road in Bolivia, reputedly the most deadly in the world and I can believe it. I am not at all sure I would want to risk driving it.

However it set me to thinking about perceptions of risk. Everyday we walk along pavements, sometimes by the side of very busy road where stepping out would be certain death, the pavement may not be very wide, but do we think about it? I would hazard a guess if instead of the road to ones side there were a vertical drop of several thousand feet we would be stricken by vertigo and find the route much more difficult.

For what it is worth I have driven roads as difficult as the Yungas Road, there are loads of them in Wales, even narrower in parts, the difference being that there is not the traffic, and not the same degree of sheer drop. Mind you a couple of hundred feet, or a couple of thousand, does it make that much difference once you are off the edge?

Perception of danger is clearly relative, the picture at the top is not the Yungas Road, it is the Bylch y Groes in Wales, the two below are the Rhos Y Gwaliau on the other side of the mountain.

Below is the Yungas road and I know which ones I am going to stick to :)

And for good measure, added last night, me driving one of the Welsh examples.


Anne said...

We have a pretty good one here in the SF Bay Area called Devil's Slide. Not only can you fall off, stuff can fall down on you, too. It's a beautiful drive, though. It should be closed for driving in a couple of years as they are building a tunnel bypass.

The author said...

I have just added another video to it.

Clay said...

I saw the hour-long version of the story about that road in Bolivia. They showed that at some narrow curves, there are people there with signs to regulate traffic, so that accidents are avoided. They also showed what was left of a bus that had gone over the side with 30-some people in it. Must have been horrifying.