MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong is asking the public to drive safely on U.S. Highway 129, also known as “The Dragon,” after a series of accidents and incidents involving reckless driving.

Berrong reported about 93 crashes on the 11.2 miles stretch of the highway since Jan. 1, 2022. Forty-nine of those reported crashes were property damage but deputies speculate that this number is higher because many non-injury crashes will go unreported.

The speed limit on the Dragon is 30 mph. The sheriff is hoping that more drivers will slow down.

“Over the past few years, the number of crashes on the Dragon declined, but this year we’ve witnessed the number of crashes due to reckless driving going up, and far too many people have been injured or killed in those accidents,” Berrong said. “Too many people are driving with no respect for the law on the Dragon, endangering their own lives, but more importantly, putting other drivers in danger due to their recklessness.”

According to Berrong, the Dragon was located in an extremely rural area with the nearest ambulance service 45 minutes away to reach a hospital.

The Blount County Sheriff’s Office said there are 318 dangerous curves on the stretch. Another issue is that they see new motorcyclists who are not prepared for the extreme driving conditions presented by the hilly terrain.

“The Dragon is no place for inexperienced motorcyclists,” Berrong said. “Many of the motorcycle accidents on the ‘Dragon’ are because of inexperience and speed.”

Motorcycle accidents weren’t reported as the only issue, people in cars will cross the centerline. Drivers are not able to see traffic in the curves so they’ll cross the centerline only to be met by a motorcycle or another car.

“We see this all too frequently,” Berrong said. “I believe some people, especially those who’ve never traveled this roadway, are not prepared for the numerous hairpin curves they experience while driving it. It can be a white knuckle experience if you are not prepared for it.”

Those traveling on the Dragon will see an increase in officers patrolling the highway this fall.

“The Dragon is a beautiful area of Blount County,” Berrong said. “We want people to enjoy the natural beauty and serene surroundings, but it is our goal to keep everyone safe while traveling. The last thing we want to hear is a dispatch to the Dragon for an accident with injuries or fatalities. That is a bad day for everyone involved.”