On US 129, down near the Tennessee/North Carolina border, is a stretch of road unlike any other in the United States with 318 turns packed into just 11 miles. This two-lane road is so hair-raising, so intense to drive, you probably know it by its nickname, the “Tail of the Dragon,” and thanks to a new law, the Dragon may attract more driving enthusiasts in 2015 than ever.
There are a lot of things that make the Tail of the Dragon an awesome drive… the switchback corners, the abundance of wildlife, and the beautiful scenery, but one thing that can ruin your fun on the Dragon is an encounter with a semi…
The design of the road, with all its hairpin corners, often forces semis to straddle both lanes just to navigate the turns, and that’s bad news for motorists coming around the blind corners in sports cars. For this reason, the Tennessee Department of Transportation has now banned commercial vehicles longer than 30-feet.
North Carolina already bans certain commercial trucks on the road, so now both states have made moves to make the Tail of the Dragon a little safer. Just how dangerous is the Dragon? Hemmings reports:
Until its overexposure in the media, U.S. 129 through Blount County in Tennessee and into North Carolina was one of the finest driving roads in the United States. Attracting sports car and sport bike owners from around the world, U.S. 129 is as technical as any race track, and the ever-increasing number of visitors has brought with it an alarming accident rate.
Per Tennessee DOT statistics, the 11.19 mile stretch of U.S. 129 in Blount County has seen 204 crashes from 2010 to 2012, including six fatalities. While only one of these fatalities involved a tractor-trailer, the state does reference numerous non-fatal accidents involving large trucks; a frequent side effect of these crashes is the complete blockage of the road, often for hours, until the accident is investigated and cleared.
With somewhere in the neighborhood of half a million people driving the Tail of the Dragon each year, and with that number increasing each year, kicking semis off US 129 will surely save lives in the future.
Tail of the Dragon may be one of the curviest roads in America, but here's what a trip down one of the loneliest, straightest roads in America like...