Beijing Traffic Jam From Hell Leaves Thousands Stranded [Video]

Being caught up in a traffic jam is hardly ever fun. It’s often an excruciating experience marked by boredom, frustration, and sometimes…the overwhelming need to use the bathroom. Well, after observing incredible footage of a massive traffic jam in Beijing, China, many of us will never complain again.

The Atlantic lamented that the average American will end up spending 38 hours per year sitting in traffic. Big deal. Imagine spending a large chunk of those hours at one time sitting in a 50-lane traffic jam. Yeah, you read that correctly: Fifty lanes. And if it weren’t bad enough that you were one of tens of thousands of commuters coming home from a week away, it gets worse.

The 50 lanes is squashed to less than half that (20 lanes) and disaster strikes. In the mad dash to get home, people forget how to drive and you’re left with nightmarish images like this from People’s Daily.

It was the People’s Daily that first reported the massive traffic jam on the outskirts of Beijing. According to the Chinese paper (as translated by USA Today), the mess of cars trapped on the road was caused by a “perfect storm” of sorts.

First, it just so happened that a number of Chinese citizens were wrapping up a week-long vacation away, celebrating one of China’s major holiday. Think of it as returning home from a fun camping trip away with your family over Labor Day weekend. Since people often think more alike than they choose to admit, many of these folks headed home along the G4 Beijing-Hong Kong-Macau Expressway on Wednesday.

To make matters worse, the thousands of people clogging the highway near Beijing managed to do so during rush hour. Believe it or not, it gets worse. Remember that 20 lane highway mentioned earlier? Well, USA Today reports that the problem was in fact made worse by a brand new checkpoint which forces 50 lanes to become 20 almost instantaneously. The checkpoint, said the People’s Daily (via ABC News), created a “bottleneck”-type traffic jam. The lack of efficiency in this matter is rather evident in images.

Apparently, traffic was backed up nearly three miles for a number of hours. In photos and video, you can see people standing next to their car, looking down the road, possibly wondering what they’d done to deserve this wretched fate. All in all, a terrible end to anyone’s holiday.

Images of the bizarre traffic jam have gone viral, with many around the world scratching their head in astonishment. Since China boasts a population of nearly 1.3 billion, traffic in majors cities like Beijing will often dwarf what we’re used to, having considerably fewer people in the United States. Many people have never heard of a 20-lane freeway, never mind ever seeing the chaos brought on by a 50-lane traffic jam.

This ugly inconvenience will hopefully cause Chinese citizens to demand a more convenient checkpoint system to be created in the future. One that more gradually narrows traffic or doesn’t call for such an extreme adjustment could help avoid such traffic problems in the future. Beijing citizens and travelers from the surrounding area will no doubt go away on holidays in the future; it’s highly possible that the new checkpoint will continue to cause monstrous traffic jams in the future.

It would probably be better to deal with the problem now, rather than find citizens stuck in gridlock for hours at a time.

What do you think of the Beijing traffic jam? Have you ever found yourself stuck in similar high-volume traffic? Please share your thoughts on this unusual story in the comments section below!

[Image Credit: Screen grab from YouTube via Sploid]