Speed-limit hike zooms to House vote

Posted June 18, 2013

— The state House could vote Wednesday on a proposal that would allow the state Department of Transportation to raise the speed limit on some highways to 75 mph.

Senate Bill 709 passed the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday, despite concerns voiced by Democrats and Republicans on the panel. 

The current maximum speed on North Carolina highways is 70 mph, but bill backers want to allow the DOT to raise it to 75 mph on highways that are engineered to be safe at that speed. 

Rep. Frank Iler, R-Brunswick, called the proposal "common sense." 

"I’ve heard much discussion that everybody’s doing it anyway," he said.

Under current state law, anyone driving over 80 mph can be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor and have his or her license suspended for 30 days. Iler said the bill won't change that.

Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, was skeptical.

"Everybody knows that on a 70, you go 80," he said. "That’s the unwritten rule. If we bump it up to 75, they'll set the cruise control at 84." 

"We don’t have autobahns," Dollar said, adding that the change could worsen teen driving fatalities. "I think we’re going down a dangerous road."

Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, said the reason high-speed highways work in Germany is because drivers there strictly observe the rules, staying to the right and passing on the left.

"When you’ve got people weaving in and out of traffic, it’s not safe," Martin said.

Rep. Becky Carney, D-Mecklenburg, said she drives to Wilmington frequently to visit her family.

"That’s a straight-shot, flat highway. I have had people blow by me doing probably 85," she said. "It’s scary. It’s like being on a racetrack sometimes. I do believe there is a safety issue." 

Rep. Rayne Brown, R-Davidson, agreed.

"I truly believe that at least one person will die because of this bill that would not have died. There is no way I can support this bill," Brown said.

Bill supporters pointed out that the increase is not automatic. The DOT would have discretion to determine where the higher speed would be safe.

The proposal has already passed the Senate. 

Most states east of the Mississippi have maximum speeds of 70 mph or less, with the exception of Maine and Louisiana, where it's been raised to 75 mph.


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  • baldchip Jun 24, 2013

    Priorities-and this is not one of them. Do this once you have a budget amd tax bill passed!!!

  • think01 Jun 20, 2013

    "Translation: “People driving the speed limit in the left lane slow me down...and I refuse to obey the law...so I’m incredibly annoyed...and I refuse to acknowledge that I created this problem for myself, so I’m going to blame someone else.”"

    Translation of the translation: People driving the unnecessarily low speed limit in the left lane slow the majority of drivers down...and they refuse to obey an outdated, incorrect, or intentionally lower than reasonable speed limit because they realize that safety is more than a number on a sign, and the number on the sign was likely put there to help generate revenue as opposed to anything having to do with safety...so they are incredibly annoyed...and they refuse to accept indignant, self-righteous drivers impeding the flow of traffic and creating an unsafe situation by attempting to enforce the behavior of others instead of minding their own business.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 19, 2013

    007KnightRider said, “You got folks creeping along in the passing lane causing folks to weave in and out of traffic.”

    Unless someone has a gun to your head, no one is “causing you to weave in and out of traffic”...that’s all you.

    007KnightRider said, “These creepers are impeding the flow of traffic.”

    Translation: “People driving the speed limit in the left lane slow me down...and I refuse to obey the law...so I’m incredibly annoyed...and I refuse to acknowledge that I created this problem for myself, so I’m going to blame someone else.”

  • Bendal1 Jun 19, 2013

    There's not a single mile of NC interstates that was designed for universal 75mph speeds. Not one. The highest design was for 70mph, which are the most rural portions of the interstates not in the mountains. What's going to happen is DOT will do their study, and either recommend very small sections for 75mph speeds (think between Winston-Salem and Statesville on I-40, or south of I-95 on I-40), or not make any recommendations at all, and the legislature will start pressuring DOT to relax their standards.

    Fact is, higher speed limits on roads not designed for those speeds will result in higher fatality rates. This is a situation where the legislature doesn't know what it's talking about (as usual).

  • Monkey_Joe Jun 19, 2013

    I thought that "even if there is one life that can be saved" we should. Oh, that's just when we're talking about something liberals don't like. Everyone likes going fast and needing more fuel. Good thing we can buy it cheaply from the stable middle east or pipe it down from our friends in Canada. How exciting!

  • james27613 Jun 18, 2013

    The superhighway in Europe are a foot thick of concrete,
    they are under constant inspection and maintenance, otherwise you can hit a dip in the road at 100MPH or better and wreck.

    Our highways don't get repaired as often as necessary.

  • Bill Brasky Jun 18, 2013

    I watched a documentary on the autobahn. When General Eisenhower invaded Germany during WWII he was so impressed with the system of highways there that were designed for 100+mph. So he started the Eisenhower highway system in the USA and actually made the interstates safer then the German counterpart. Of course in more populated parts of Germany there are speed limits, the driving tests are tougher than ours, and highway laws are much more strict....But if we could copy their system it is doable...and frankly, I'm physically sick of SEEING PEOPLE NOT PASSING IN THE LEFT LANE. There..I feel much better now.

  • FlagWavingFascistCrank Jun 18, 2013

    Do tell WHY legalizing marijuana would be OK as long as "the same rules apply to it as apply to alcohol and tobacco"?

    We thought the NCGOP and their willing thrall were AGAINST intrusive BIG GOVERNMENT making rules and acting like BIG BROTHER

  • FlagWavingFascistCrank Jun 18, 2013

    How nice you ain't got a problem with legalizing a plant created by God, that grows out of the ground.....but that ain't the point.

    The point is that the NCGOP's burning desire to raise the speed limit to seventy five even though it is illegal NOW is because THEY already drive that fast

  • affirmativediversity Jun 18, 2013

    Here's the real difference - quality of driver. A license in Germany (most of Europe too) takes time and money to earn. In the US if you can fog a mirror you can get a license. Over there they teach lane discipline, how to actually USE your turn signals and mirrors, and it costs north of $800 to get a license... per Road-wearier


    In certain provinces of Canada you have graduated licenses...and its not done by age but by skill...city vs highway and winter vs non winter.