For motorcycle riders, finding scenic roads with interesting characteristics is part of the draw to climbing on a bike for a relaxing adventure. Some roads have become well known as sort of motorcycle tourist traps. One of those destinations, known as Tail of the Dragon, begins in Deal’s Gap, North Carolina and crosses into Tennessee. Taking that ride is a bit of a calling for many bikers no matter if it’s on a touring or racing bike.
According to tailofthedragon.com, the 11-mile stretch of Route 129 “is considered by many as one of the world’s foremost motorcycling and sports car touring roads.” The North Carolina Department of Transportation estimates 240,000 bikers per year try to “slay” or “tame” the Dragon, as some call it. As of 2016, North Carolina tracked 1,500 vehicles per day passing through its side of the course. That means a lot of motorcycle accidents and more than an average number of deaths on such a short length of the highway.
Graham County, where many bikers stay, eat, and play while riding the Dragon, has become the worst county in North Carolina for crash rate severity because of its 318 dangerous curves and switchbacks. The dangers lurk literally at every turn with no time to think if you need to react quickly.
Danger is inevitable on a mountain road
Eighteen wheelers are now banned from driving this length of Route 129 due to the inherent risks of oversized vehicles making sharp turns. Some truckers ignore the law and still take to this dangerous section of mountain highway. Other risks include illegal passing and excessive speeding, which is easy when the speed limit is just 30 miles per hour.
Between 2015 and 2017 there were 178 crashes with just over half resulting in injuries and deaths from taking motorcycle rides down the Dragon. Factors involved other than weather conditions included:
- Collisions with other vehicles
- Losing control on a curve
- Animals running into the roadway
- Road debris causing a bike to lose contact with the road
Cars following too closely behind motorcycles can, and do, make accidents worse. Newer riders may feel pressured to go faster through the curves to put distance between themselves and another vehicle. That alone can cause a rider to lose control. Once a motorcycle lays down – is no longer driving forward on both wheels – a car accident is likely to occur. Cars coming in the opposite direction may also misjudge a curve and come over the dividing line, colliding with a motorcycle. All of these are causes for being overly cautious during the drive.
In addition to death, riders have experienced:
- Broken bones. Depending upon the break these can require months of healing and immobility, if not surgery to have pins, plates and rods inserted.
- Traumatic brain injury. Victims could wind up with anything from memory loss to learning disabilities and daily life activities being hindered.
- Spinal cord injury. Spinal cord damage can range from causing mild, temporary paralysis to spending a lifetime being required to have round-the-clock home healthcare.
- Road rash, deep cuts, and bruises. These injuries can take weeks to heal and may involve stitches and permanent scarring. Accident victims also run a risk of infection.
Being so close to such an amazing attraction means many North Carolinians who enjoy motorcycles are drawn to this course on a regular basis. The more you drive the Trail of the Dragon, the better your odds are of becoming seriously hurt.
If you have experienced an injury while driving a motorcycle due to the negligence of another driver, the Charlotte motorcycle accident attorneys at Warren & Kallianos, PLLC urge you to contact us to discuss your rights. You may be entitled to recover damages you sustained due to your injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, and more. To schedule your free, no obligation consultation in our Charlotte office, call 704-275-5593 or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact form.