most dangerous roads in bristol tennessee

Dangerous roads have been a problem in East Tennessee throughout automotive history, as the region’s highways include sharp turns and many steep grades as they wind through the mountains. Despite decades of upgrades and road building, Tennessee is still one of the most dangerous places to drive, and the Tri-Cities Area of Bristol, Kingsport and Johnson City is not immune.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in the first half of 2022, there were 636 roadway fatalities in Tennessee — the sixth most of any state. This statistic shows that traffic planning and road building efforts haven’t always resulted in safety improvements.

Interstate 81, which runs through the Tri-Cities, is a good illustration of the failures contributing to accidents. In the 1960s, officials in East Tennessee towns hoped the construction of I-81 would mean increased safety for area drivers. At the time, the main artery through the area was US 11W — known as “Bloody 11W” due to its high accident rate. The first stretch of I-81 to be completed was a one-mile stretch from US 11W and the Virginia state line, which opened in late 1961. Construction was finally completed with the opening of the stretch from Blountville to Greeneville in 1974, which the Kingsport Times-News called “East Tennessee’s Christmas Present.”

In the nearly 50 years since, heavily traveled I-81 has proven to have its own set of dangers, including grades so steep that trucks have a hard time climbing them, which causes traffic congestion and accidents. Truck climbing lanes have been added in various spots, including one between the bridge over Fort Patrick Henry Lake and Exit 63 in Kingsport in 2020, to try to improve the situation. Other dangers on stretches of I-81 include short on-ramps, limited visibility and poor drainage after heavy rains.

At Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, PC, our attorneys have successfully represented numerous clients who were injured in accidents in the Tri-Cities area and throughout East Tennessee. If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys about your crash, please call 423-797-6022 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.