Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Hwy. 129 Tail of the Dragon; one of the deadliest roads in America

It is no secret that the Hwy. 129 Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina is my favorite road trip. The drive is especially enjoyable on in autumn when the fall colors are out in full force. You can imagine my surprise at finding out the U.S. Hwy. 129 is one of the most dangerous roads in the country.

The highway is popular with motorcyclists and sports cars. It has 318 curves and only 11 miles to drive them on. For me, a U.S. Hwy 129 road trip is the white-knuckle thrill ride of the Appalachian Mountains. There is nothing like rounding a switchback curve and immediately throwing yourself into the next bend. As you drive, passengers can take in the beauty of the scenery.

Yes, I said passengers can enjoy the scenery of Hwy. 129. As the driver, you can't take your eyes off of the road for a second. Losing concentration is part of the reason that CBS named Hwy. 129 "one of America's deadliest roads".

There is a tendency to drop your guard when you are having fun. On this road trip, losing concentration can kill you. Drivers must keep a watch out for slowed vehicles, animals, oncoming traffic, motorcyclists, tourists and road conditions.

Driving U.S. Hwy 129 in North Carolina can be done with relative safety. Here are some driving tips that might make your road trip go more smoothly.

I pay attention to where my vehicle is at all times. It's also important to watch for oncoming cars. Some drivers will cross the center line when taking this road trip. Hugging the line on the right side of the road is as helpful as using a pullout to let faster drivers go past. Be careful to pull off of the road fully and to watch for suicidal animals that play chicken on the highway.

Additional tips for driving U.S. Hwy. 129 include:
  • Maintain your vehicle
  • Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Lay off the breaks by downshifting 
  • Use your turn signals
  • Don't rubberneck
  • You are here to enjoy the road trip, not to be a race car driver
  • If you feel uncomfortable on the road, let someone else drive

More great tips for driving the roadway are on Remember, road conditions can wreak havoc on Hwy. 129. Rain and snow can make the highway treacherous. If you think that sunny days give drivers a free reign to drive hard, then guess again. The blinding sun can be a surprise as you round a curve.

There is no way to deny that U.S. Hwy. 129 as one of the deadliest roads in America. If I could offer one tip for drivers, it would be to slow down and enjoy the road trip in North Carolina and Tennessee. That suggestion applies for almost every aspect in life. It's a journey to be enjoyed, so why not slow down and do just that?

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