Driven to despair: Five of history's worst ever traffic jams

Yahoo! News UK gives a run-down of some of the worst traffic queues ever, and trust us, it'll put your commute into perspective.

It's a very modern motoring problem almost all of us have suffered from at some point - but pity the Russian who were stuck in a traffic jam tailing back for 120 MILES.

The mammoth jam on a motorway northeast of Moscow saw some drivers stuck for three days, as heavy snow caused total gridlock outside the Russian capital.

The Russian traffic queue might sound like comfortably the world's longest jam, but compared to some of history's worst it is comparatively minor.

Yahoo! News UK gives a run-down of some of the worst traffic queues ever, and trust us, it'll put your commute into perspective.



SAO PAOLO, BRAZIL
MAY 9, 2008
182 MILES


The giant snarl-ups in Brazil's largest city are so widespread and commonplace they are known as 'engarrafamentos' (literally, 'jams' in Portugese) and regularly top 100 miles.

In May 2008, a logging truck tipped over on one of the city's already heaving major roads.

The resulting tailback went back 182 miles, setting a then record for the longest traffic jam ever.

Motorists in the city can spend up to four hours a day battling through traffic, and in the rush hour a tailback of merely 50 miles is considered average.

A year after this jam, Sao Paulo set another world record when it amassed combined traffic queues of 182 miles across the city - over a third of Sao Paulo's roads.

Sao Paulo: Arguably the world's traffic jam capital (PA)


BEIJING, CHINA
AUGUST 14, 2010
60 MILES (11+ DAYS)


On the China National Highway 110, a traffic jam developed which was so huge it lasted for almost two weeks.

A combination of roadworks which reduced road access by half, along with a spike in lorries heading into Beijing, caused a 60-mile jam which blocked some motorists in for five days.

Drivers were forced to sleep in their cars, and street vendors exploited the stricken road users by selling them water at ten times the normal price.

Although it was feared the jam might last into September, it eventually eased up at the end of August - but only after Chinese authorities stepped in to unclog the roads.


PARIS/LYON, FRANCE
FEBRUARY 16, 1980
109 MILES


A legendary snarl-up developed outside the French capital in 1980 due to a combination of bad weather and highway congestion.

Thousands were returning from skiiing holidays in Lyon and the surrounding areas, another factor in the mega jam.

The eventual queue of up to 18 million cars went back 109 miles - roughly a third of the distance between the two cities - which was then a world record for the longest ever traffic jam.


INTERSTATE 45, HOUSTON, TEXAS
SEPTEMBER 21 2005
100 MILES


As Hurricane Rita approached and Americans did their best to flee the impending category 5 chaos, a mammoth jam developed which saw motorists going just 10 miles in nine hours.

Most of the traffic chaos accumulated around Interstate 45, the officially designated evacuation route, and things only got worse when drivers started to break down and run out of fuel.

Some motorists became so tired of the queues they turned round back to their houses - reasoning they would be safer there than out in the elements in their cars.

Woodstock, 1969: Half a million music fans, 20 miles of traffic (Pic: Sound Opinion Message Board)


BETHEL, NEW YORK STATE
AUGUST 14 1969
20 MILES


The roads around any major music festival are always chaotic, but throw in unprecedented demand coupled with hapless policing and the jams quickly become nightmarish.

Around half a million music fans descended on Woodstock in 1969 - ten times the anticipated 50,000 - New York State police refused to introduce alternative traffic plans recommended by concert organisers.

The resulting jams lasted for the entire three-day festival - performers had to be helicoptered in and many fans abandoned their cars just so they could get in.