dragon awareness

A goal of the Blount County Sheriff's Office is to reduce the number of injuries and deaths through education and enforcement.

Changes for the 2016 Season

No significant changes have taken place for this year.

About dragonawareness.com

The Blount County Sheriff's Office is dedicated to the safety of the citizens that live in and visit this county.  One of the larger visitor attractions is a section of US Hwy 129 known as "The Dragon".  This section of roadway attracts people from all over the world for its breath-taking scenery, and for the thrill of driving this extremely curvy highway.

The Sheriff's Office began concentrated patrols in this area because of the extremely high number of complaints from citizens and the increasing number of injuries and deaths due to crashes.  This extra patrol effort is entirely funded by grants from the Governor's Highway Safety Office.

The Dragon boasts
318 curves in 11 miles.

When you are visiting the area, please feel free to stop and talk to any Deputy you may see.  We are there to answer your questions and hopefully make your visit safer and more enjoyable. 

Remember when visiting this very unique highway, you are not the only one there.  There are many people who have to use this road every day commuting to and from work or are visiting family.  Drive like you would want people to drive on the roads you and your family travel daily. If everyone would do this, there will be far fewer injuries and deaths, and when you see a Deputy, you won't be leaving with an  invitation to return at a later date.

Dragon Statistics

While 2015 did see an increase in the amount of visitors to the area it was overall a very good year. There was a slight increase in the number of total crashes but the number of injuries were reduced by roughly 10% and the number of fatalities dropped by 80% from 5 in 2014 to 1 in 2015. 2016 is off to a very busy start with the calendar of clubs visiting filling up quickly. Just in April there has already been 13 crashes resulting in 6 injuries. Just to clear up a question we are often asked, The Dragon is NEVER closed for ANY club or event to drive on a closed roadway. Everyone please be safe and enjoy your visit.

We will continue our efforts during 2016, and hope that we can prevent families from having to go through the grief of losing a family member. The goal will take cooperation between the visitors to the area, our education and enforcement efforts.
October 2016
  • Total Crashes: 11
  • Injuries: 5
  • Fatalities: 1
  • Citations: 90
 
October 2015
  • Total Crashes: 12
  • Injuries: 4
  • Fatalities: 0
  • Citations: 228

September 2016
  • Total Crashes: 17
  • Injuries: 7
  • Fatalities: 0
  • Citations: 143
 
September 2015
  • Total Crashes: 17
  • Injuries: 10
  • Fatalities: 0
  • Citations: 177

August 2016
  • Total Crashes: 8
  • Injuries: 4
  • Fatalities: 0
  • Citations: 175
 
August 2015
  • Total Crashes: 24
  • Injuries: 14
  • Fatalities: 0
  • Citations: 199

July 2016
  • Total Crashes: 15
  • Injuries: 11
  • Fatalities: 2
  • Citations: 48
 
July 2015
  • Total Crashes: 19
  • Injuries: 9
  • Fatalities: 0
  • Citations: 201

June 2016
  • Total Crashes: 7
  • Injuries: 5
  • Fatalities: 0
  • Citations: 35
 
June 2015
  • Total Crashes: 25
  • Injuries: 18
  • Fatalities: 0
  • Citations: 200

May 2016
  • Total Crashes: 13
  • Injuries: 6
  • Fatalities: 0
  • Citations: 119
 
May 2015
  • Total Crashes: 28
  • Injuries: 15
  • Fatalities: 0
  • Citations: 189

April 2016
  • Total Crashes: 13
  • Injuries: 6
  • Fatalities: 0
  • Citations: 150
 
April 2015
  • Total Crashes: 9
  • Injuries: 3
  • Fatalities: 0
  • Citations: 244

November 2015
  • Total Crashes: 7
  • Injuries: 2
  • Fatalities: 0
  • Citations: 148
 
November 2014
  • Total Crashes: 8
  • Injuries: 1
  • Fatalities: 0
  • Citations: 69


We are often asked why we spend so much time and money on traffic enforcement efforts on "The Dragon". The simple answer is this: In 10 years there were 27 motorcycle fatalities on the 11 miles while the rest of the roads in Blount County, over 1100 miles, there were only 23 motorcycle fatalities. Also keep in mind that while this number of fatalities may not seem extremely high for a US highway, we are only talking about an eleven mile section of a roadway where the speed limit is only 30 mph.

For every fatality on this section of roadway there are several more people that have their lives changed forever due to injuries received here. During the summer months the local helicopter ambulances make several trips here to pick up critically injured patients and the ground ambulance transports at least 10 patients per month to area hospitals for treatment. This is an extremely rural area. The nearest ambulance service is 45 minutes away. Once an injured person is being transported by the ambulance it will take an additional 45 minutes to reach a hospital for minor injuries and over an hour to reach a Trauma Center Hospital. So if you are injured in the area plan to wait at least an hour and half to receive treatment at a hospital.

Safety Tips

The preferred method of crash reduction is through education,
hence the reason for this website.

Below are some safety tips to ensure you have an enjoyable visit to the Dragon.




BEFORE YOU ARRIVE

Make sure your vehicle is safe and ready for the trip. Gas, tire pressure, etc., this area is very remote with no phone service. Check out the local laws section of this page.

BE RESPECTFUL OF THE RESIDENTS

While driving to and from "The Dragon" you will be passing by the homes of hundreds of residents. Drive like you would want them driving by your home. Remember this is their home and we work for them. When they complain is when we are in the area more.

SLOW DOWN

The speed limit is 30 mph on "The Dragon" section. Almost all of the crashes are due to speed. There are several curves that you cannot safely negotiate at 30 mph. Remember not only the limitations on your capabilities but also that of your chosen vehicle.

In the last 11 years there have been a total
29 deaths on the 11 mile section of roadway known as "The Dragon". 28 of these deaths were on motorcycles.

STAY IN YOUR LANE

Stay on the right side of your lane as much as possible. Many crashes are caused by vehicles crossing the center line or when two vehicles are both crowding the center line when they meet. Some areas are deceptive. They may appear to have a clear view but have a dip or curve just enough to hide an oncoming vehicle.

DO NOT SIGHT SEE WHILE DRIVING

There are multiple pull off areas to sight see. With 318 curves in 11 miles you don't have time to look around while driving. Even at the posted speed limit of 30 mph curves come upon you very quickly.

WATCH THE ROAD

Roadway hazards can appear quickly and unexpectedly. This is a remote wooded area. The area has many fallen tree limbs, rock slides, animals, gravel and mud thrown onto the roadway and oil and antifreeze slicks from wrecks.

STAY OFF THE LINES

The yellow lines and white lines can become slick when they are wet or covered with leaves.

BE AWARE OF OTHERS

Watch for vehicles approaching from behind. If you are slowing down traffic use the next paved pull off on your side of the road to allow the faster traffic to pass.

DO NOT SHOW OFF FOR PICTURES

There are many photographers along the roadway. Do not let this distract you and do not show off for a picture. All of the photographers have plenty of pictures of people crashing because they were giving to much attention to the camera and not enough to the road.

SHARE THE ROAD

You will see pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles, cars, trucks, campers, motor homes and anything else you might see on any other US Highway. You may even see tractor trailer trucks even though there are signs warning them to not travel this roadway. As of right now it is still legal for them to be there even though it is impossible for them to be there safely so be aware there may be one around the next corner.

CHANGING CURVES

Stay alert that some curves may change during the curve. There are several curves where the radius of the curve changes at some point in the curve. You may be negotiating the curve fine but when it sharpens you are suddenly going too fast to negotiate the curve and stay in your lane.

DRIVE BELOW YOUR LIMITS

Never try to drive at 100% of your capabilities, allow room for unexpected hazards and adjustments in driving conditions.

WATCH FOR SIGNALS

Pay attention to warning signs given by other drivers when they signal for you to slow down or pull to the side. There is probably a hazard, such as a big truck, approaching.

USE YOUR SIGNALS

Use your turn signals in plenty of time if you plan to pull off the roadway. This allows traffic behind you to prepare for your next move.

SHORT STRAIGHTS

While the straight sections are very tempting to speed, remember at the other end is another very sharp curve. This causes lots of drivers and riders to crash.

NOT A RACE COURSE

This is a public roadway and all the laws that apply on other roads apply here. If you want to test your skills try an open track day somewhere. The rumors are NOT TRUE, there has never been nor are there any plans to close the road for racing.

OUT OF AREA RIDERS

Simple fact. Almost all of the serious injuries and deaths that occur here are riders from out of state where the roads are straight and flat. Take your time and use extra caution.

STATE OF TENNESSEE TRAFFIC LAWS

These laws are not the complete law as listed in TCA. To see the complete law as listed in TCA you can search the internet for the TCA number that is listed by each law or if you need more explanation you can contact us.




Equipment

55-12-139 // Proof of Insurance Required

You are required to carry current proof of insurance for the vehicle you have. This proof should be an official document from your insurance company stating specifically what vehicle is covered and the dates the insurance coverage is in effect.

55-4-108 // Signed registration to be carried in vehicle

The vehicle registration for the vehicle you are driving should be signed and carried in the vehicle at all times.

55-9-302 // Crash Helmet Required for Driver and Passenger

DOT approved helmets are required. A DOT approved helmet will have the sticker on the back AND the sewn in label on the inside. Buying a sticker at the sticker shop and putting on a plastic bucket does not work.

55-9-603 // Seatbelts Required

Driver and all passengers are required to PROPERLY wear seat belts at all times when the vehicle is in motion on a public roadway.

55-9-403 // Motorcycle Headlamps

Every motorcycle must be equipped with at least one but no more than two headlamps.

55-9-304 // Wind-shield or glasses required

All motorcycles must have a wind-shield or both the operator and passenger must have on safety glasses or face shields.

55-9-305 // Rear-view Mirrors and Footrests

All motorcycles must be equipped with a rear-view mirror and securely attached footrests for both the operator and any passenger.

55-9-202 // Muffler cutouts prohibited

Muffler must be in good working order to prevent excessive or unusual noise and smoke. Unlawful to use any type of muffler cut out.


Moving Violations

55-10-501 // Drag Racing

Using any motor vehicle to ascertain the maximum speed obtainable the vehicle. Using any motor vehicle to ascertain the maximum speed obtainable by the vehicle within a certain distance. Use of one or more vehicles to compare the relative speeds of the vehicles within a certain distance or time. Use of one or more motor vehicles in an attempt to out gain, outdistance or to arrive at a given destination prior to that of any other motor vehicle. The use of any motor vehicle for the purpose of accepting any challenge with reference to performance abilities of one or more vehicles.

Penalties: Any person convicted of this offense is subject to one year license revocation on first offense and the seizure and forfeiture of the vehicle.

55-10-205 // Reckless Driving

Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

55-8-136 // Drivers to Exercise Due Care

Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care by operating the vehicle to avoid endangering life, limb or property and to see and avoid colliding with any other vehicle, person or object.

55-8-182 // Motorcycles on Laned Roadways

All motorcycles are entitled to full use of a lane and no motor vehicle shall be driven in a manner that deprives any motorcycle of the full use of a lane. This does not apply to motorcycles being operated at two abreast in a single lane. A motorcycle may not pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken. Motorcycles shall not be operated more than two abreast in a single lane.

55-8-123 // Roadways laned for Traffic

If a slow moving vehicle behind which 5 or more vehicles are formed in line and the slow moving vehicle is traveling at a speed that is more than 10 miles per hour below the posted speed limit, that vehicle shall pull off the roadway in a safe area to allow vehicles to pass.

55-8-121 // No Passing Zones

When the center line is a solid yellow line no passing is allowed.

55-8-164 // Riding on Motorcycle

An operator may only ride on the permanent and regular seat attached to the motorcycle. A passenger may only be carried if the motorcycle is designed to carry a passenger. A person may ride on a motorcycle only while sitting astride the seat, facing forward, with one leg on each side of the motorcycle.

55-8-175 // Bicycles on laned Roadways

Bicyclists shall ride as close as practicable to the right hand side of the roadway except when passing another vehicle in the same direction, when turning left, when necessary to avoid a collision or hazard. Bicyclists shall not ride more than two abreast, but shall not impede the normal flow of traffic when riding two abreast. Motor vehicles when passing a bicycle must leave a safe distance of at least three (3) feet between the vehicle and bicycle.


Contact Us


Blount County Sheriff's Office
940 E. Lamar Alexander Pkwy
Maryville, TN 37804
(865) 273-5000
[ www.bcso.com ]

If you would like to contact a Traffic Safety Supervisor,
please fill out the form below.