Motorcycle Crash Video Review

This motorcycle accident occurred at the “Tail of the Dragon” at Deals Gap in North Carolina / Tennessee. I’ve written about this infamous stretch of road before (see post from 1/20/10) as it’s known for being such a “dangerous” road. Looking at accident videos can help us figure out what went wrong.

Unfortunately, the first bike that went down is too far in the distance to evaluate what went wrong. What really impressed me though, is what happened next. It looks like a classic case of “target fixation” – more on that in a minute.

While the group appeared to be riding at a quick pace, it doesn’t seem excessive. I’ve ridden big cruisers through there with sparks flying from the floorboards and I don’t see anything like that here. I don’t think the limits of the bikes were exceeded. Rather, as too many discover on this road, the first rider to go down exceeded his/her limit and either ran wide, locked the rear brake in the turn (no-no), or maybe actually dragged a floorboard or made contact with the frame on the road. Too far away to tell.

One bike going down is bad enough, but there is just no cause for the second bike to have followed. Distracted by the accident in front, the rider focused on it. Where your eyes go, you go and there couldn’t be a much more dramatic example than this one. Target fixation may be the leading cause of motorcycle accidents. You go where you look. Who hasn’t seen a pothole or bump, focused on it so you won’t hit it, only to nail it dead on.

Training your eyes to always look at where you want be in the future is one of those motorcycle riding techniques that takes a little time to develop. It’s especially difficult to maintain when something dramatic happens right in front of you like in this video. The following rider should have kept his/her eyes focused down the road, especially with another turn coming up quickly.

The verdict – inexperienced riders pushing their limits in a new situation. A recipe for a wreck.

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Why Is Riding the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap So Dangerous?

Photo - Smoky Mountain Rider and BMW Girl at the Tail of the Dragon

Smoky Mountain Rider and BMW Girl at the Tail of the Dragon

If you’re convinced the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap in North Carolina is “too dangerous” or “ too challenging” a motorcycle ride, you’ve been deluded. If you can negotiate a crowded parking lot without panic, navigate city traffic, or confidently explore unknown back roads, you can ride the “infamous” stretch of US 129 at known as “The Tail of the Dragon”.

While riders are killed on the Dragons Tail almost every year (once you visit you’ll know why) it’s not the road that does them in. It’s a great motorcycle road with more than 300 curves in 11 miles. The pavement is nice, the road is well engineered, and it sees little commercial traffic. Still the motorcycle accidents at Deals Gap keep piling up.

Truth is, motorcycle riders crash here due to their own expectations. The Tail of the Dragon near Deals Gap is so hyped as a challenging and dangerous motorcycle ride people believe they have to make it one. Too many bikers push their limits on this great ride to fulfill the myth and prove something to themselves. Those limits of skill and reason are exceeded far too often resulting in motorcycle wrecks that would not have otherwise occurred had the rider not been so persuaded this was the ideal place to test his mettle. Truth is, I can direct you to roads far more dangerous, all of which make for good motorcycle rides you will enjoy and savor if you don’t consciously try to kill yourself.

That said, the Tail of the Dragon may not be for everyone. If your bike was on the showroom floor last week, and your warm license stills smells like fresh plastic, think twice, break in the tires and get a few miles beneath them. The Blue Ridge Parkway will give you all you need, and I’ve mapped hundreds of miles of other great motorcycle roads in the area.

There are certainly TIMES to avoid the Tail of the Dragon. A rally can turn it into a suicidal circus. Weekends bring out the squids and posers. Safest bet is to go mid week, early in the day. Be warned, it’s heavily patrolled by overworked troopers who have absolutely no sense of humor left.

With hundreds of posted videos to choose from, you can be sure I’ll be posting more. Here’s one of the longer ones that not only shows the entire ride, but demonstrates why this good motorcycle ride has earned such a bad reputation. Is it the really roads fault?

For lots more info about the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap visit http://tailofthedragon.com

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