The 7 Longest Traffic Jams in History

Giving most of us a reason to whine, complain, and show up late for work, traffic jams are a way of life, but these longest traffic jams in history stand above the rest as the worst ever. From 110-mile pileups in France to millions of residents evacuating before a natural disaster, these traffic jams make Southern California highways look deserted in comparison. The longest traffic jam in history is everyone's worst nightmare, and these longest recorded traffic jams really take the cake.

What are the worst freeways in the world? Where did the worst traffic jams in history take place? Being bored, hungry, and miserable, running low on gas, or needing to use the restroom are all reasonable reactions to being stuck in traffic, and undoubtedly felt by the drivers stuck in these historical messes. Next time you're stuck for 20-30 minutes on the highway, be thankful you were not there for days and days, as these unlucky folks were.

  • Beijing, China
    Video: YouTube

    In 2015 thousands of cars got stuck on a 50-lane Beijing highway when a new checkpoint closed 20 lanes, forcing everyone to merge. To make matters worse, the jam happened during the country's National Day celebrations, when an estimated 750 million people were expected to be traveling.

  • Lyon To Paris, France

    What happens when hundreds of people are returning from their ski holidays in France? The longest traffic jam on record. According to Guinness World Records, the longest traffic jam reported in history was 109 miles long, spanning from Lyon to Paris on February 16, 1980. The jam occurred on the French Autoroute as a result of highway congestion and poor weather.

    Little is known about how long drivers were stuck in the French mess, but at a distance of 110 miles, slow speeds, and poor weather, it's easy to assume that drivers would have been in the jam for several hours. Pretty sure after that mess anyone would need another ski vacation before returning to regular life.

  • Sao Paulo, Brazil

    Sao Paulo, Brazil
    Video: YouTube

    Reported in Time magazine as the city with the world's worst traffic jams, Sao Paulo, Brazil, set a record with more than 182 miles of accumulated jams out of 522 miles monitored on June 10, 2009.

    No matter the day of the week or the time of the day, the city faces severe congestion. Typically, the length of a traffic jam spans to 120 miles at peak hours with drivers spending up to three-to-four hours behind the wheel in traffic each day.

    The cause of the extreme traffic rests in the rising economy and living standards. Skyrocketing amounts of commercial vehicles are sold each year, with approximately 1,000 new vehicles driving on the streets each day.

  • East To West German Border

    East To West German Border
    Photo: WG5 Danny Trujillo / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Coming in as the biggest traffic jam in history when recorded by the number of cars, on April 12, 1990, an estimated 18 million cars were knotted up at the East-West border in Germany. To put the numbers in perspective, on an average day only about 50,000 vehicles hit the highway each day.

    Likely a pain in the butt for any of the 18 million drivers at the time, the traffic jam did have a pretty good reason behind it. At the same time, Germany was going through its reunification period in which East and West Germany became one.

  • Hamburg, Germany

    Rivaling the 110-mile jam in Paris in 1980, a 100-mile traffic jam nearly broke the world record for traffic jam length when it halted thousands of drivers in Hamburg, Germany, in 1993.

  • North Of Houston

    North Of Houston
    Photo: Ed Edahl/FEMA / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain