• Aug 24, 2007
For those who don't know, the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap in Tennessee is one of, if not the greatest, driving roads in the world. Containing 318 curves in an 11-mile stretch, the Tail is visited by both car enthusiasts and motor cyclists from all over the globe. While it brings a healthy amount of tourist dollars to the region, the curvy two-lane road that runs on US-129 has effectively been shut down by an overbearing Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Apparently the governor of Tennessee, Phil Bredesen, has instituted a program to reduce traffic deaths and accidents on US 129, and so the 11-mile stretch known as the Tail of the Dragon has been saturated with Tennessee Highway Patrol officers writing tickets at a hand-cramping rate. The situation has gotten so bad, US 129 is now being called Tennessee's newest toll road. The Tail of the Dragon website is keeping a running list of tickets that have been issued and why, and the reasons are rather ridiculous. Cars and motorcycles are being ticketed for literally just touching the double yellow line that indicates no passing allowed. Tickets for going 5 mph above the posted 30 mph limit are also supposedly common. And then there are reports of blatant harrassment, with THP officers caught tailgating drivers for miles and threatening arrest for minor violations.

Enthusiasts and those invested in the health of the region are trying to fight the crackdown, even keeping an ongoing photo archive of THP cruisers breaking the law themselves. Alas, authorities have not relented and will reportedly be watching the Dragon like a hawk for at least the next month.

[Source: Tail of the Dragon]


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  • 48 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Tail is one of the hottest spots for anyone living in Appalachia. I've driven it twice now in my LS (Lincoln not Lexus) with groups of other LS enthusiasts and It's always been a blast. Most people in cars drive very safe and are very attentive. Its the few dumb ones like the rice burners and the cocky sport bike guys that wreck and cause the whole system to come down on all other auto enthusiasts riding the Tail. Our regular meets at the tail have stopped altogether. What hurts Tennessee more is the fact that while they may be making $50-$100 a ticket for motorists, the local economy is losing much more than that. I know many people that come to Maryville and rent hotel rooms and go to local bike and car shops and to the local restaurants that are too afraid to come down and do it anymore. That's sucking thousands out of the local economy. All so the Blount Count sherrif can look good to the Governor.

      On another Tennessee auto related note. Earlier this year they passed an ordinance that said that no cars are allowed to have nitrous bottles on public roads. The tanks have to be emptied and disconnected if they are actually inside the car. LAME.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ya know, I understand their wanting to strongly enforce the laws on a stretch of road that is not super safe for the average cell phone yapping driver (not enthusiasts who actually know how to drive a vehicle and maintain control of it). I don't necessarily like it, but I understand it. It's when the ones who punish us for doing something wrong, do the exact same crap themselves that pisses me off. No seatbelts, clipping apexes, but they're going to write me a ticket for the exact same thing. It's no different than the US Congress trying to push government-run universal healthcare on the public, while reserving the right for themselves to seek out private healthcare and still let the taxpayers pay for it. I'm calling bullshit.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I go to the dragon quite often and it's a great place to visit. I have met people from all over the world there. It is one of the few places outside of a sports stadium where I forget about the prejudices of the world like race, religion, etc. and just talk cars/ motorcycles. There's a common love and bond there and it transends age and race.

      I will miss going there if this is the way it's going to be from now on.

      And for all the haters out there that are complaining about people "speeding" on the Dragon... believe me, it's pretty difficult to go over 50 unless you're on one of the few straights. You stay in the 35 - 50 MPH range 85% of the time. And I'm sorry, but doing 47 MPH in a 35 MPH zone where there are no side walks, buildings, or pedistrians is nothing serious.

      The cops should spend their time stopping drug dealers, rapes, and robberies and leave the drivers alone.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What a Shame! I was there just 2 months ago. True I saw a Pontiac Solstice upside down, but it was raining and hailing. Personally, my Camaro Loved IT.
      Hopefully next time I tackle the dragon there is less fuzz, and less rain.

      Free the DRAGON!
      • 7 Years Ago
      In California, crossing a single set of double yellows is only legal when entering a driveway or exiting a driveway. It is not legal for passing, making a u-turn, etc.


      Anyways, just another example of our nanny-state. Putting safety over freedom.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Correction: *live
        • 7 Years Ago
        That's a bit ignorant isn't it?

        Of course the state is gonna cite safety over freedom, considering the amount of crashes that there are in the US per year. I mean when you really look at it, most people don't know how to use their turn indicators properly, let alone drive properly. The driving tests are very lax (especially if you compare them to Europe's driving tests) and there are no proper passing rules and enforcement on the freeways - everybody passes in every lane!

        I do agree with the 'nanny state' enforcing that rule, however I am against them tightening their grip on the Tail of the Dragon...its one of the few great roads in the region as it is (I love in Florida btw).
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Township I grew up in (many miles of twisting empty roads) still has no police dept. or crime, and every time it comes up as a referendum to start a dept. it gets overturned.

      This is a prime example of why. It's simple harrassment, and revenue generation they are doing down there.

      Blah.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Having driven it a few different times, it is truly a shame that they are doing this. My friend who lives near it (why i have driven it so many times) often refers to it as his 'Local Nurburgring'

      With the amount of twists and turns i could say that with a cop on my tail i would be more to error in my driving. Not holding my lane while watching my rear view mirror to make sure i can even see the cop's headlights.
      • 6 Years Ago
      As far as I'm concerned, the Tennessee state Troopers should put more officers on the Dragon. My wife and I drove up there this week, first by pickup truck and later by motorcycle. We saw multiple instances of people speeding, and crossing the double yellow line to pass. We personally were harrassed in our truck by a man on a crotch rocket behind us who repeatedly beeped his horn in an attempt to get us to pull over. Then he passed us, and slowed down and motioned for us to pull over. We did not, and after a few nervous minutes he drove off. These people who think that a US highway with a posted speed limit and double yellow lines is their personal racetrack need to have their license revoked. To walk is a right, to drive is a privilige. My hats are off to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is unbelievable. 90% of the posters believe they should be allowed to break the law and punish the state because they aren't allowed to. No wonder there are so many MVAs.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It's just a matter of time before some inattentive cop hits/kills an innocent person and all hell will break loose. The state and county will be sued dry. There will be no settlement.

      Tennessee and BCSO are putting people in more danger by putting more cross traffic on the road.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Not just TOD but Cherohala also - email I sent to TOD and TN officials - with response only from TOD:

      On August 27, 2007 between the hours of approximately 2-3 PM I was harassed by an on obviously undisciplined THP LEO. I was driving the speed limit on the Cherohola Pwky. from the NC side to the TN side in my Mustang GT, at the speed limit. Shortly after I entered TN I had the LEO behind me, I took pullout to look at the view and he went on, at the next pullout he was sitting there, waiting, I went by and he pulled in behind me, next pullout I stopped at he went by, and was again waiting for me to go by, and again pulled in behind me. Next pullout, same story, only this time I passed him pulled over nose in at a service road. This was about 14 miles from the end, I continued on, watching my mirror, at about 4 miles to go he suddenly came up behind me again – since I was doing the speed limit and when I checked my mirror several times (often being able to see some distance behind me) he obviously had to do some serious speeding to catch me. He followed again until I pulled in the Exxon station a few miles from the end near TN 68.
      After reading the about the harassment by the THP at the Dragon, this incident struck a very sour note with me – causing the drive along the TN side of the Pkwy unduly stressful and not enjoyable.
      I am sure you can find this out of control LEO, he likely checked my FL plate during this harassment.

      As a result of this harassment by your rouge LEO I did and will do the following:

      1. Cut my stay in TN short by 2 days and found the shortest route out of your state.
      2. Cancelled my 25 year annual trip to Gatlinburg with 30-40 friends, for this year and all in the future
      3. All future trips to the Smokies will be based on the NC side.
      4. When I do have to travel through TN I will be sure to arrange my time such that I will not have to spend a dime in TN. ( since decided just to never enter TN)
      5. I have ditched serious plans to buy a home in TN and move in the next year or to –
      NC will now get my business.
      6. I will tell my story to everyone I know, and some I don’t know.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Have a read
      http://www.thenewspaper.com/
      The government is corrupt. Fight it.

      Who polices the police? We do.
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