Big Rigs Banned on Tail of the Dragon

Bryan Harley | December 4, 2014
Deals Gap aka Tail of the Dragon
Deals Gap just got a little safer for motorcyclists thanks to the Tennessee Department of Transportation which banned trucks over 30-feet of length from using the popular roadway.

Thanks to a ruling by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, one of the most famous roads in America just got a little safer for motorcyclists. Tennessee is banning trucks longer than 30 feet on the legendary “Tail of the Dragon.” Formally known as U.S. Route 129 in Tennessee’s Blount County, the 11-mile stretch of asphalt in question has endeared itself to motorcyclists and sports car enthusiasts alike for its 318 curves with names like “Crud Corner” and “Hog Pen Bend.” Big rigs with trailers are so long and some of the turns are so tight, trucks often end up blocking both lanes of traffic trying to negotiate its nastier curves. The North Carolina side of “The Dragon” has banned trucks for a few years now with Tennessee finally following suit. Signs announcing the truck ban will be erected mid-January.

Here’s the official announcement courtesy of the Tennessee Government Newsroom & Media Center.

Truck Restrictions on “The Dragon” in Blount County; Limits for commercial vehicles longer than 30 feet on US 129 (SR 115)

Following the completion of an operational and safety review, the Tennessee Department of Transportation has determined that vehicles over 30 feet in length will no longer be allowed to utilize a mountainous section of US 129 (SR 115) in Blount County, known as “The Dragon.”

From 2010 to 2012, there were 204 total crashes from the Tennessee/North Carolina State Line to Tabcat Bridge (Log Mile 11.19) in Blount County, with six of those involving fatalities. This is considered a critical number of crashes based on the type of road and number of vehicles per day on this facility. While only one of the fatal crashes involved a tractor trailer, there were a number of incidents involving large trucks. Due to the curvy and narrow roadway, incidents involving tractor trailers usually block the highway for several hours and prevent travel for all motorists.

Signage detailing these restrictions will be installed in mid-January. TDOT has coordinated these efforts with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Blount County law enforcement.
North Carolina has similar restrictions for truck traffic on US 129 from the Tennessee/North Carolina State Line to the Graham (NC) County Line.

For travel and TDOT construction information, visit the TDOT SmartWay web site at www.tn.gov/tdot/tdotsmartway/. Motorists are reminded to use all motorist information tools responsibly. Drivers should refrain from texting, tweeting or using a mobile phone while operating a vehicle.

Bryan Harley

Cruiser Editor |Articles | Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it’s chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to ‘Merican, he rides ‘em all.