Driven to despair: History's 5 worst traffic jams

But even Vancouverites--subject to Canada's worst traffic--will pity the Russian drivers caught recently in a queue stretching back 200 kilometers.

Earlier this year, Vancouver got the nod as the worst Canadian city for traffic congestion. (Seriously, worse than Toronto, birthplace of the Sunday-afternoon, dear-God-all-I-wanted-to-do-was-go-to-Ikea traffic episode?) But even callous Vancouverites, uttering oaths at 5 p.m. on Lougheed Highway, will pity the Russian drivers caught recently in a queue stretching back 200 kilometers, or the distance from Vancouver to Seattle.

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 the world's longest jam, but compared to some of history's worst it is comparatively minor.

Here are five of the worst ever. Let them brighten your heart when you're next stuck in traffic. 

MAY 9, 2008
292 KM

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 160 kilometers.

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

The resulting tailback went back 292 km, 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 80 km is considered average.

A year after this jam, Sao Paulo set another world record when it amassed combined traffic queues of 292 kilometers across the city--over a third of Sao Paulo's roads.


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