North Carolina, Tennessee Officials Promote ‘Tail of the Dragon’ Safety
North Carolina and Tennessee officials held a special campaign Tuesday, June 14, focused on an 11-mile, curvy stretch of U.S. 129 along the state line that is a popular location for motorcyclists and car enthusiasts.
The N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program (NCGHSP) and N.C. State Highway Patrol, along with the Swain County Sheriff’s Office and local law enforcement agencies, partnered with the Tennessee Highway Safety Office and Tennessee Highway Patrol for the “Border to Border” campaign to promote safety for visitors of the “Tail of the Dragon.”
“Tourists from all over are attracted to the exciting and unique curves the Tail of the Dragon offers, particularly in the warm summer months,” said NCGHSP Director Mark Ezzell. “This joint campaign is an effort to display our common commitment across state lines to keeping motorcyclists, drivers, passengers and others safe in this popular area by encouraging everyone to slow down and buckle up.”
“Law enforcement’s main goal is to prevent traffic crashes and spread awareness through education,” said Tennessee Highway Safety Office Director Buddy Lewis. “The Tail of the Dragon showcases breath taking views in Tennessee and North Carolina. This stretch of road also can be difficult and dangerous to travel. Please pay attention to the road, slow down, buckle up, and don’t drive distracted or impaired.”
The Tail of the Dragon is famous for the 314 curves it features along an 11-mile stretch of road bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and Cherokee National Forest at the state line.
In 2020 and 2021, there were a total of 17 crashes on the North Carolina side of the Tail of the Dragon, including eight involving serious injuries. Half of those crashes have involved motorcycles.
“We want people to have fun exploring this interesting and unique stretch of road,” said 1st Sergeant J.M. Futrell of the N.C. State Highway Patrol. “But we want them to keep themselves and others safe by buckling up and obeying the speed limit, so we can keep the summer fun going for everyone.”
Additionally, on the Tennessee side of the Tail of the Dragon, there were a total of 165 crashes in 2020 and 2021, 123 of which involved motorcycles, including nine fatalities – all motorcyclists.
“Summer is the time of year for family vacations and outdoor activities,” said Tennessee Highway Patrol Col. Matt Perry. “Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers are watching for unsafe driving behaviors such as distracted driving, speeding, impaired driving, and unrestrained passengers. Through voluntary compliance from the motoring public, enforcement, and education, the Tail of the Dragon can be a safe, scenic, and exciting drive for everyone. If you see unsafe driving or a motorist in need of help, please call one of our dispatch centers by dialing *THP (*847).”
The “Border to Border” initiative is a one-day national seatbelt awareness event sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition, the states will also be educating the motoring public on distracted driving, speeding, and impaired driving.