U.S. Route 129 runs north and south from the North Carolina state line through Knoxville, Tennessee. According to Dangerous Roads, it is one of the most scenic beautiful roads in the country, popular with motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts. The Tennessee portion of the road begins in Deals Gap, runs through the Tennessee River, and joins US-411 where it becomes a four-lane expressway.
It is also one of the most dangerous roads in the country. It is called the Tail of the Dragon because part of the road is shaped like a dragon’s tail. The road is 11 miles long and has 318 curves. Many of the curves have colorful but ominous names such as:
- Copperhead Corner
- Wheelie Hell
- Sunset Corner*
- Beginner’s End
- Brake or Bust Bend
- Hog Pen Bend
- Shade Tree Corner*
There’s a place called the Tree of Shame – so named because remnants of crashed motorcycles adorn the branches.
(*These might not sound so ominous, we know – but if you’ve ever taken a curve only to be blinded by the sun, or come around a corner and found the road littered with debris from a recent storm, you’ll know just why even the prettiest of names can disguise some serious dangers.)
Why the Tail of the Dragon road is so dangerous?
It’s not just the curves that make U.S. Route 129 so dangerous. In winter, the light can be excessively bright one moment and then a snowstorm or blizzard can appear from seemingly nowhere. Some of the higher parts of the road such as the Blue Ridge Parkway even get snow in May. The road welcomes many “travelers” – such as turkeys, deer, and bears. Parts of the road are particularly narrow, so wide vehicles need to occupy both lanes.
Before 1992, the speed limit was 55 mph. The Tennessee speed limit was lowered to 40 mph in 1993 and then lowered again to 30 mph in 2002. There is a heavy law enforcement presence on this road due to the known dangers and the high number of motorcycle accidents. Large commercial trucks are no longer allowed to drive on the Dragon Trail stretch.
I-40 is another deadly road
The Dragon’s Tail gets a lot of attention, but I-40 is another dangerous Tennessee road. According to a story in the Crossville Chronicle, I-40 is the second deadliest road in America. This statistic comes from GEOTAB, a Canadian fleet logistics company and from data accumulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 500,000 people travel I-40, an east-west road, each year. The part of the interstate that runs through Tennessee is 450 miles long. The causes for car and truck crashes are typical – distracted driving, speeding, and other known causes. The main cause of all the crashes seems to be the high volume of traffic, so the odds of an accident are increased.
At the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, we hold negligent parties responsible for the wrongful deaths and the injuries they cause. Our Nashville car crash lawyers also file claims against other responsible parties such as parts manufacturers. To speak with one our dedicated attorneys located in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Knoxville, please call us at 615-425-2500 or complete our contact form. We will fight for you!