Senate votes to raise speed limit in NC

Posted April 10, 2013
Updated April 11, 2013

— The state Senate on Thursday approved a proposal to raise the maximum speed limit in North Carolina from 70 to 75 mph.

Senate Bill 709 passed by a 45-1 vote and now heads to the House.

Sponsored by Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, the legislation would authorize the state Department of Transportation to raise the limit on interstates and other controlled-access highways where engineering and traffic studies show it would be safe and reasonable. 

The measure passed the Senate Transportation Committee on a unanimous vote Wednesday and has the support of the DOT.

Hunt said he envisions higher speed limits being used for stretches of interstate in rural areas, such as parts of Interstate 40 heading to Wilmington.

"(It's) just to move traffic along. A lot of times, it's not crowded. You have the opportunity to go a little faster without worrying about getting a ticket," he said. "(It's) just the opportunity to get where you're going a little quicker."

Hunt said the change will not affect the state's eligibility for federal highway funding, and he does not believe it will pose an additional safety risk for drivers.

Not every driver agrees, however.

Light highway traffic, no traffic congestion Legislation would let drivers put pedal to metal

"I think what we have now is good enough. We have enough accidents on our major roads. We don't need to be raising speed limit anymore," said Patricia Kandefer of Wake Forest. "People need to slow down in life. People are in a rush (and) should slow down a bit more."

Scott Blount of Nashville said he already pushes the 70 mph speed limit but likely wouldn't go faster than 75 mph.

"I would fear for my safety and other people's safety," Blount said.

Research by legislative staff shows 16 other states allow speeds up to 75 mph. All but two of those states – Maine and Louisiana – are in the western U.S. Texas and Utah allow speeds of 80 to 85 mph on specified segments of highway.

"I don't think it's a bad idea," said Taylor Adcox, a freshman at North Carolina State University. "I think, for the most part, people are competent drivers and able to deal with it.

"It wouldn't be a huge problem with safety issues," Adcox said, adding that he "mostly" obeys the speed limit.


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  • wattsun Apr 12, 2013

    marathonk you hit the nail on the head!

    Germans have it right with regards to proper highway driving etiquette and laws.

  • Silver bullet1 Apr 12, 2013

    It appears that most drivers in the triangle are not aware of the poor conditions of highways east of Raleigh. I-95 is patchwork. No majors improvements have been made since it was constructed in the mid-70's, and is hodge-podge of asphalt and concrete that has been ground down so that water does not drain off it. US-64 is in fair condition in spots, poor in others. US-264 is about the same as US-64. On US-64 and 264, if you run off the travel lanes, you have got a 3 in drop on the sides. No shoulder on the inside lane. US-301, forget it, it is beyond repair. It needs to be dug up and rebuilt. No shoulders on either side. So I wish WRAL would go out and drive these roads and actually see the conditions, and show your findings. These roads are not roads that speeds of 70 mph should be run.

  • ganotedp Apr 11, 2013

    Interstates are the safest, fastest, and most fuel-efficient roads. Rural interstates account for 6% of NC's road travel, and just 4% of traffic fatalities. WHY? Because fatal crashes typically occur at intersections, sharp curves, and where opposing traffic is separately only by yellow paint stripes -- hazards "designed out" of interstates! FOR EXACTLY THE SAME REASON that interstates are the safest roads, they're also the most fuel-efficient: no wasted fuel at intersections, no wasted fuel on twisting roads slowing for every little village, etc. -- see EPA mpg ratings! If you're looking for SIGNIFICANT fuel-savings, emissions-reductions, or improved safety, you're wasting your time (and everyone else's) on interstates. Interstates carry long-distance travelers, truckers, and tourists. They deserve a higher speed limit.

  • jollyroger6930 Apr 11, 2013

    They might as well raise the speed limit to 100, no one observes speed limits and no one enforces it anyway,

  • MudLife Apr 11, 2013

    LOL all the people worried about gas. It's my gas mileage i'm losing and my money to going into the tank so why are you worried it? If you don't or don't want to drive the new speed limit stay in the FAR RIGHT lane.

  • Pseudonym Apr 11, 2013

    Quote from the article: ""I don't think it's a bad idea," said Taylor Adcox, a freshman at North Carolina State University. "I think, for the most part, people are competent drivers and able to deal with it.""


  • frosty Apr 11, 2013

    Lightness does not make a car float if it has proper aerodynamics and suspension. Some racing cars are lighter and much faster with few problems.

    That is what is so silly about high performance sports cars on our roads. Take them to the speeds they are really meant to perform and you go to jail when you get caught. (motorcycles too) Helps if the driver is that capable too.

    I doubt I-95 south of exit 107 will see the faster speeds. The road is too old with very bad exit and entry lanes. And with just two lanes going in one direction,it is usually to congested
    to be safe at higher speeds. Heck, sometimes it is not safe now.

  • SMAPAEA Apr 11, 2013

    Yea...guzzle more gas...more money for the gas tax.

  • marathonk Apr 11, 2013

    "Vehicle weights now, are extemely light, and at 75-80 mph, they tend to start to float, and become uncontrollable."

    Seriously? Last August when driving in Germany on the Autobahn between Munich and Augsberg in a Seat Leon (about the size of a VW Golf w/ a 1.8l diesel engine), I was cruising at about 160 km/hr. The car was solid and tracked well. If your assertion was true, there wouldn't be many cars left to drive because we all would be in the ditch.

    It was a real pleasure to drive in Germany as everyone observes lane discipline and after passing moves back to the right. From my experience the right lane was doing about a 90-100kph (55-62mph), the middle lane up to ~ 130-160 kph (80-100mph), and the left lane was over 150kph (over 95mph). It was not uncommon to see the larger BMW, M-B, Audi's flying by at over 200kph.

    Besides being illegal to pass to the right in Germany, drivers can also ticketed for tailgating with potential license suspension.

  • Good Bye WRAL Apr 11, 2013

    Majority of traffic delays are caused by a small number of drivers. I'd love to see a study (hint NCSU post grads) of rush hour traffic slow downs where specific cars are identified that begin the slow down and then see if these same cars cause similar delays every day of the week. I'll bet the same blue Corolla going 5 mph below the limit every day and slowing further when traffic builds would be the tipping point for that initial rush hour crawl.

    Besides that, my experience is that I can move through Raleigh on I-40 (65 limit) at a good 73-75mph, then when the limit goes up to 70 near Clayton, traffic actually slows down to 65-70! Again, lazy drivers with no sense of pace or what speed they could/should be going.