Unless we live in the middle of nowhere, probably most of us have been stuck in traffic at least once in our lives. For many people, traffic jams are part of their daily routine, and for that reason they have to plan ahead and sacrifice some other activity, whether it is sleeping or having breakfast at home, in order to get to wherever they need to be on time. The problem with traffic jams is the level of stress it produces in people’s lives because it is regularly time completely wasted. While people are in traffic they only think about being somewhere else because there are not many productive tasks that can completed while in the car. However, I am very positive all the experiences we may have had with traffic jams do not even compare to what people went through in Lyon in 1980 and in Beijing in 2010
According to the Guinness World of Records, the longest traffic jam in the world happened in Lyon, France in February 1980. Records from that event show that too many people returning from their ski trips, combined with a really bad weather situation on the road caused a traffic jam that stretched for 110 miles and 18 million cars. What this record does not reflect is how many hours these travelers spent inside their cars on the French Autoroute. Of course, it had to be enough time to drive people crazy.
At the same time, there is also the enormous traffic jam drivers experienced in Beijing, China in 2010. Even though this traffic jam was not as long in distance as the one in France (“only” 62 miles), it is shockingly famous because of the amount of not only hours, but days people were stuck in it. Surprisingly, it took 12 days for people to get out of there driving at a speed of 2 miles per day. I bet most of us cannot even imagine what that might feel like. The irony of this story is that, supposedly, this huge congestion was caused by an excessive amount of trucks carrying construction material to build more roads and reduce traffic jams in the city.
Although, it is obvious that this was not the only cause. China’s big population, and the fact that with time more and more people are buying cars, also took its toll. The only positive side of all this chaos was that some people with a very good eye for business set up informal stands to sell basic goods, like food, water and any form of distraction, to the desperate drivers. After all, at least some people benefited from it.
These two events in traffic history are equally infamous in different categories, and although only the French traffic chaos carries the title of a Guinness World Record, I think we can all agree Beijing’s 12-day jam could be anyone’s worst nightmare. From now on, we might be a little bit more grateful to our own milder congestion because it is not even close to what those people in France and China had to go through. Well, we might think that now, but it is a whole other story finding that patience while stuck in our cars thinking we need to get somewhere soon.