If we can safely travel on certain freeway segments at higher speeds, then that can reduce travel time, bring communities closer together, and potentially reduce traffic volumes on lower speed roads through our communities.
See this map for a summary of RTA requests for limited speed limit increases on sections of Triangle area freeways that have been approved and implemented by NCDOT since 2012. Currently North Carolina has a maximum speed limit of 70 MPH; some of these requests were for lower increases to 60 MPH or 65 MPH (from 55 MPH).
Increasing maximum allowable speed limit to 75 MPH on lower-volume freeways
RTA supports giving NCDOT the authorization — but not the requirement — to post speed limits of up to 75 MPH on freeways with lower volumes.
According to a poll by Elon University published in Our State magazine in September 2014, 57.7% of North Carolinians supported increasing the speed limit to 75 miles per hour on certain Interstates in North Carolina (39.9% opposed).
See below for some summary points re support for possible future legislation based on Senate Bill 709 (from the 2013 session of the NC General Assembly) that would have authorized NCDOT to conduct a pilot study of a max speed limit of 75 MPH on lower volume freeway segments in North Carolina.
- Legislation would provide the professionals at NCDOT the opportunity to consider an increase, after conducting an engineering and traffic study, on a case-by-case basis
- NCDOT was selective in the freeways it increased from 65 MPH to 70 MPH several years ago – those highways were among the safest roads in North Carolina at 65 MPH, and they continue to perform very safe at 70 MPH, according to the State Traffic Engineer
- Language could be added to ensure that only freeways which are already posted at 70 MPH would be eligible for consideration for the pilot
- Language could be added to ensure that only freeways which are below a certain volume (e.g., below 35,000 vehicles per day for 4-lane freeways, below 50,000 vehicles per day for 6-lane freeways) would be eligible for the pilot
- As a practical matter this legislation would authorize NCDOT to consider studying a possible 5 MPH posted speed difference for some of the safest roadways in the state
- Aligning posted speed limits with desired, safe travel speeds will improve overall compliance with law, and reduced speeding violations may allow law enforcement to reallocate their resources to roadways with more safety problems – that may result in improved highway safety overall
- Higher freeway limits may also encourage travel away from roads with signals and cross traffic and onto our safer freeways