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Jerseyman4

Stuck at 55mph still. Why?

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Almost a year ago, Virginia raised their speed limits on selective arterials mainly in southern part of the state such as US 360 (65mph on some bypasses statewide), i am getting fed up with NCDOT/state legislature (whomever it is) not enacting 60mph speed limits on four lane arterials. No offense to Virginia and South Carolina but there four lane arterials are substandard, if not very substandard compared to NCDOT's four lane highways. What is it going to take for NCDOT to raise the limit just 5mph more on some arterials? NCDOT could do what New Jersey did and thats giving the changed speed limits an 18 month trial to see if a higher speed limit improves saftey such as decreased accidents/fatalities and decreased speed related citations. 18 months later, it proved right so the experiment expanded statewide so pretty much, any freeway you are on that is not in a densely urban area will be 65mph! I would like to list arterials in the state that i know of that REALLY qualify to be 60mph.

US 74 between I-95 and the west end of the Whiteville Bypass

I dont care if this is big but this road needs it more than anything else! Between I-95 and the west end of the Whiteville bypass. Forget 60mph, this would be the only exception in the entire state that deserves 65mph! In order for this to happen, traffic lights must be removed by having blinkers or construct some interchanges.

Through the Whiteville bypass, 70mph would not HURT one bit!

East end of the Whiteville bypass to teh end of the Bolton bypass, raise to 60mph. East of Bolton to the Leland bypass should remain at 55mph. Leland bypass to the Cape Fear River can be raised to 60mph.

US 1 Vass-Cameron Bypass

Between the US 1 business at-grade intersections. Brand new constructed expressway in June of 2005 with a mix of at-grades and interchanges, rumble strips & guardrails to my knowledge in Moore County and probably now in Lee County, theres no reason this road should be 55mph since its limited access. Raise to 60mph tomorrow!

US 17 between US 74 and the SC state line

60mph on the entire roadway. Bolivia and Shallote bypasses could qualify for 65mph but im pushing more for 60mph right now.

US 421 between the north end of Siler City bypass to roughly I-40/85

Limited access expressway with few at-grades which signs are even posted up that indicate they will be constructed for future interchanges. Raise to 60mph!

US 64 between US 421 and the west end of the Pittsboro Bypass

US 64 between the east end of the Pittsboro bypass to NC 55

US 421 between NC 210 and I-140

Although this is an arterial highway with no control access, it is a leveled flat straight road with excellent sight distance. One of the few arterials in the state that can qualifty for 60mph.

US 17 between the northern end of the Elizabeth City bypass to Virginia state line

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I agree, our new 4-lane freeways are great. They are graded very aggressively and they have gentle curves. It seems like theres always a full width emergency shoulder on at least the right side, and the merge lanes are certainly long enough. Many of the 55mph stretches could safely support 60mph or even faster traffic as a matter of habit.

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I like the slower speeds. It keeps the death rate down. There are not too many people who should be driving faster than 60MPH.

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I like the slower speeds. It keeps the death rate down. There are not too many people who should be driving faster than 60MPH.

I do not agree with you. In the 18 month "65mph trial" study on New Jersey's limited access freeways, it reduced accidents, fatalities and speed related citations.

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The extra 5 mph won't do much difference except for the fact that the people who always drive 10 mph over the speed limit would be going 70 instead of 65.....and the safer drivers (myself included) would be going 65 instead of 60. I mean most people drive 60 (if not faster) in a 55 already so officially changing it to 60 would only encourage people to drive even faster....

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Back when the national speed limit was lifted, thereby allowing states to determine the speed limit on Interstate freeways, there were a lot of people lobbying and warning that the death rate would go up by an incredible amount... they had charts and projections for days. Their argument was actually quite compelling. I believe Ralph Nader was one of the folks spouting off these figures.

Anyway the national speed limit was eliminated and most states went ahead and bumped up speeds. For instance, in NC several stretches of freeway now see a 70mph limit. Turns out the projections were not just wrong--they were very backwards. The fatality rate actually dropped by a very small amount, on average.

Experts attribute this to greater distance between cars, reduced driver frustration and pressure, and less time spent on the road per driver (cumulative of course).

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I do not agree with you. In the 18 month "65mph trial" study on New Jersey's limited access freeways, it reduced accidents, fatalities and speed related citations.

Where can I find that study?

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Back when the national speed limit was lifted, thereby allowing states to determine the speed limit on Interstate freeways, there were a lot of people lobbying and warning that the death rate would go up by an incredible amount... they had charts and projections for days. Their argument was actually quite compelling. I believe Ralph Nader was one of the folks spouting off these figures.

Anyway the national speed limit was eliminated and most states went ahead and bumped up speeds. For instance, in NC several stretches of freeway now see a 70mph limit. Turns out the projections were not just wrong--they were very backwards. The fatality rate actually dropped by a very small amount, on average.

Experts attribute this to greater distance between cars, reduced driver frustration and pressure, and less time spent on the road per driver (cumulative of course).

Wow. I'd like to read more about it. Could you direct me to the source of the information?

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I'm sure the information is available elsewhere, but I got it from an article in Car and Driver back in the mid-late 90s. I will have to dive into my archives (aka the attic) and dig it up. I believe Csaba Csere or Brock Yates was the author though...

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Where can I find that study?

Click here

I would like to italicize some facts that were found in the 18 month study:

Fatal accidents in 65 MPH zones have decreased since the implementation of the 65 MPH speed limit. There were ten fewer deaths, representing a 9.6 percent decrease, on the sections of highway that now have the 65 MPH speed limit and seven fewer fatal accidents, representing a 7.9 percent decrease, than on those sections of highway for a comparable time period.

Reported accidents increased 18.3% in the 65 MPH zones over a similar 18-month period prior to the study period. Adjacent 55 MPH zones had slightly higher increases in the number of reported accidents than the 65 MPH zones during a similar time period.

As noted previously, accident rates fluctuate over time. In periods between 1984 and 1996, rates vary as much as 12 percent per year.

Note: The highways that were analyzed in the study we're talking about are I-78, I-80 and I-287. The study expanded to many other limited access freeways such as the NJ Turnpike (I-95), Garden State Parkway, NJ 18 Monmouth County Freeway section, I-95 Trenton section, I-295 in most portions, Atlantic City Expressway and i could be missing some more. 65mph is still around for many limited access freeways in the state and there are no signs or indications that it will drop again anytime soon!

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I remember being six or seven as we drove to Canada for the first time to visit some cousins that had relocated there. It was the early 70's and speeds were crazy high. We made it to new brunswick in a day and a half...I can still hear my mom telling my dad to "slow down" LOL.

There are very few places in NC that I can think of where I'd change the speed limit from what it is already. Parts of hwy 64 for sure...needs some adjusting...long stretches of nothing...

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Interstate standards are exactly that - standards. Why do they fluxuate so much between states. I could understand maybe in the immediate downtown areas, but outside downtown the speed should be higher to get the cars moving out of the area. Far West, the speeds are sometimes upwards of 80mph. In CA, it is 70mph. I hate that NC has some 55mph zones that go for miles past where most people want to go. When it finally get up to reasonable speed, there are no cars left. So what is the purpose. Seems backwards.

The problem as was stated about people going even faster, is not the speed limit, it is people not abiding by it. It is also a problem with people that aren't really good drivers. I-40 is 70 in NC. That study also noted that larger 18 wheel trucks did better gas mileage at 65 than at 55. Either way it is additionally silly to have different vehicles going different speeds as well.

I agree there is a limit to how fast is still safe... 70 is a great median, less frusteration and thus less road rage,etc.

SE Charlotte is in desparate need for a freeway to take traffic from downtown and outwards towards the coast. I know, a different story as well. But sometimes out in the sticks on US 74, the speed is 55 - not a car in sight and it is pokey-ville.....

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Far West, the speeds are sometimes upwards of 80mph...

But sometimes out in the sticks on US 74, the speed is 55 - not a car in sight and it is pokey-ville.....

At speeds like that, a three hour trip (given it were all highway) would become less than a two hour trip; which equals more time out on the sand. And no I don't feel like leaving eariler, I enjoy my rest. I vote yes.

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I can't remember the details of the study, I saw it a few years ago. The number 1 cause of accidents/deaths on interstates/freeways is variation in speed. For the road to be as safe as possible everone needs to travel at generally the same speed. So if a road is set at a limit that everyone percives as too slow most will speed, but there will always be somone who obeys the law, creating the potential for accidents. I don't know how most states determine their speed limits, but Michigan has a law that states the speed limit will be set at what 80% of the traffic actually does.:) With the exception of speeds beyond 70mph. When in Michigan last I know there were a couple of law suites over a couple sections of road where speed traps occure often, saying that the limit was illeagly set at a speed that was too slow. I'll try to see if I can find anymore information on this.

On a side not, I know that GA has set at lest one expressway speed limit at 65. It is a divided highway with a few traffic lights. They have special warnings far enough out to let you know what the light is doing ahead. One of those I think, is GA 53 connecting Rome to I-75. Its been about 10 years since I was on it though, I just remember that the road mentioned above went from Rome to I-75. I remember I was going back to Chattanooga, TN but didn't want to take US 27, and GA 53 seems the logical road I would have taken. I remember this because I thought it was unusual to go so fast on a road that wasn't a freeway. :blink:

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NCDOT recently proposed raising the speed limit on a stretch of Harris Boulevard in Charlotte, from Mallard Creek Road to I-77, from 45 mph to 55 mph (part of that area is already 55). I've driven that stretch a lot over the past few years, and I can tell you that variation in speed is a huge problem. Most drivers go around 55-60 as it is, so when you come up behind someone going 45, it's scary. Going much faster than 60 on there can be kinda tricky, especially when there's traffic, so hopefully raising the speed limit will help keep most people within a few miles an hour of each other. There was a study showing that accidents, as well as fatalities, decreased after raising the speed limit on the section that's already 55. That's their goal for the remainder of this stretch. The big problem I see is the intersection of Harris Boulevard and Sugar Creek Road, where traffic backs up pretty significantly. On Harris going westbound (towards 77), you typically encounter this backup immediately after cresting a hill, which seems like a problem if you're traveling at 55+ mph. However, they're supposed to be retiming the light before they increase the speed limit. There's also the fact that from Northlake Center Parkway to District Drive (roughly a 10.5-mile stretch, which includes the entire area where the speed limit is being raised), you can't turn left on to Harris without a light. Drivers on Harris use "left-overs," where a concrete median allows traffic to turn left off of Harris, while making traffic turn right to get on to Harris. This greatly increases the number of U-turns that drivers make. This is supposed to help make it safer, and it should. However, people often get impatient while waiting to make U-turns and simply pull out in front of traffic that's moving at a pretty good speed. Turning in front of traffic with a higher speed limit could be a bit more dangerous. On the other hand, people might be smarter about making U-turns if they know that the oncoming traffic is going 55.

The figures that NCDOT used for determining the speed limit should be increased is that 85% of traffic currently travels at 55 mph or less. I know the same is true in many areas, including Texas. I drove from Phoenix to Charlotte with my fiancee a couple of years ago. It was a 2,200-mile drive, over 800 of which were in Texas. We spent three nights in hotels on our drive, two of which were in Texas. I thought we were never going to get out of that state. They've now upped the speed limit on 521 miles of interstates (432 miles -- roughly the entire distance of I-40 in North Carolina -- on I-10, and 89 miles on I-20) to 80 miles per hour. It's important to note though that these roads were already at 75 mph, so going 80 isn't a huge increase. Also, these are some incredibly boring stretches of road, with few exits (amazingly, there are actually a few farm roads that cross the interstate at-grade), essentially no services, and very low populations (I think the population density has to be less than 15 people per square mile). These are the only two stretches of road in the US that currently have an 80 mph speed limit, and even then, it drops to 65 at night. Montana had their "reasonable and prudent" experiment the first time I was out there, but now they "dropped" their speed limit to 75 after it was determined that "reasonable and prudent" was too vague. Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona all had speed limits of 75 mph the last time I was in each of those states, and I would imagine a few other states have them in areas where there aren't a ton of people.

As far as expressways and other major non-freeway roads are concerned, I'm typically for higher speed limits. I'm not sure I'm 100% behind the increase on Harris, since there are many neighborhoods off of the road, and there are cyclists who already struggle to share the road. That being said, the way Harris is currently set up in that area, it'll probably never be pedestrain or bike-friendly, so maybe the increase is warranted. One example of an increase that I think took too long is US 421 in Yadkin and Wilkes counties. They recently upgraded 421 to freeway status through a pretty good chunk of those counties; before that, it had been mostly a two-lane road, with only a couple of four-lane sections. Even the four-lane sections had at-grade intersections though. Now that the road is four lanes throughout the area, with only grade-separated interchanges, the speed limit has been increased to 65 mph. However, for a while there were two intersections left, in a stretch of about a half-mile or so. However, until those intersections were eliminated, the speed limit remained 55 for most of the freeway portion. State troopers were able to write tickets all day long. The speed limit's now 65, but it amazed me that it took until the last two intersections were removed for that to happen.

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NCDOT recently proposed raising the speed limit on a stretch of Harris Boulevard in Charlotte, from Mallard Creek Road to I-77, from 45 mph to 55 mph (part of that area is already 55). I've driven that stretch a lot over the past few years, and I can tell you that variation in speed is a huge problem. Most drivers go around 55-60 as it is, so when you come up behind someone going 45, it's scary. Going much faster than 60 on there can be kinda tricky, especially when there's traffic, so hopefully raising the speed limit will help keep most people within a few miles an hour of each other. There was a study showing that accidents, as well as fatalities, decreased after raising the speed limit on the section that's already 55. That's their goal for the remainder of this stretch. The big problem I see is the intersection of Harris Boulevard and Sugar Creek Road, where traffic backs up pretty significantly. On Harris going westbound (towards 77), you typically encounter this backup immediately after cresting a hill, which seems like a problem if you're traveling at 55+ mph. However, they're supposed to be retiming the light before they increase the speed limit. There's also the fact that from Northlake Center Parkway to District Drive (roughly a 10.5-mile stretch, which includes the entire area where the speed limit is being raised), you can't turn left on to Harris without a light. Drivers on Harris use "left-overs," where a concrete median allows traffic to turn left off of Harris, while making traffic turn right to get on to Harris. This greatly increases the number of U-turns that drivers make. This is supposed to help make it safer, and it should. However, people often get impatient while waiting to make U-turns and simply pull out in front of traffic that's moving at a pretty good speed. Turning in front of traffic with a higher speed limit could be a bit more dangerous. On the other hand, people might be smarter about making U-turns if they know that the oncoming traffic is going 55.

The figures that NCDOT used for determining the speed limit should be increased is that 85% of traffic currently travels at 55 mph or less. I know the same is true in many areas, including Texas. I drove from Phoenix to Charlotte with my fiancee a couple of years ago. It was a 2,200-mile drive, over 800 of which were in Texas. We spent three nights in hotels on our drive, two of which were in Texas. I thought we were never going to get out of that state. They've now upped the speed limit on 521 miles of interstates (432 miles -- roughly the entire distance of I-40 in North Carolina -- on I-10, and 89 miles on I-20) to 80 miles per hour. It's important to note though that these roads were already at 75 mph, so going 80 isn't a huge increase. Also, these are some incredibly boring stretches of road, with few exits (amazingly, there are actually a few farm roads that cross the interstate at-grade), essentially no services, and very low populations (I think the population density has to be less than 15 people per square mile). These are the only two stretches of road in the US that currently have an 80 mph speed limit, and even then, it drops to 65 at night. Montana had their "reasonable and prudent" experiment the first time I was out there, but now they "dropped" their speed limit to 75 after it was determined that "reasonable and prudent" was too vague. Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona all had speed limits of 75 mph the last time I was in each of those states, and I would imagine a few other states have them in areas where there aren't a ton of people.

As far as expressways and other major non-freeway roads are concerned, I'm typically for higher speed limits. I'm not sure I'm 100% behind the increase on Harris, since there are many neighborhoods off of the road, and there are cyclists who already struggle to share the road. That being said, the way Harris is currently set up in that area, it'll probably never be pedestrain or bike-friendly, so maybe the increase is warranted. One example of an increase that I think took too long is US 421 in Yadkin and Wilkes counties. They recently upgraded 421 to freeway status through a pretty good chunk of those counties; before that, it had been mostly a two-lane road, with only a couple of four-lane sections. Even the four-lane sections had at-grade intersections though. Now that the road is four lanes throughout the area, with only grade-separated interchanges, the speed limit has been increased to 65 mph. However, for a while there were two intersections left, in a stretch of about a half-mile or so. However, until those intersections were eliminated, the speed limit remained 55 for most of the freeway portion. State troopers were able to write tickets all day long. The speed limit's now 65, but it amazed me that it took until the last two intersections were removed for that to happen.

We are talking about Interstate speeds, not other roads. 55 is plenty on the other ones. I am hoping that people aren't making U-turns on interstates! On non-interstate roads, U-turns are usually illegal excapt at a signal light. No-one needs to be going anywhere near 55 through a signal light because people do like to slow to make their turns. Of course common sense fits in there somewhere.

Unless it is 'controlled access' meaning no abutments into the roadway, and they have actual exit ramps!, then it shouldn't be more than 55 really. The only way to make that safe is to make turning lanes into them median and that isn't safe either - fast lane has cars slowing to 35 to pull into a turning lane. ouch.

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U-turns are usually illegal excapt at a signal light.

Ummmmmmmmmmmmm... as long as there is no "U TURN" sign and you are not on a controlled access freeway, they are perfectly legal. Then of course, you dont U turn on a highway thats near/at a bridge, a railroad at-grade crossing, you are situated at a curve or bend... most of these things are common sense. Law enforcement will ticket if a U turn is made when oncoming traffic is being interfered.

No-one needs to be going anywhere near 55 through a signal light because people do like to slow to make their turns. Of course common sense fits in there somewhere.
This is subjective. If im driving on a highway thats straight as an arrow with few curves, and im doing 60-65mph passing through the stale green light, i am always prepared that the light can change at any time, ESPECIALLY if a car is waiting at opposite ends of the signalized intersection.

The only way to make that safe is to make turning lanes into them median and that isn't safe either - fast lane has cars slowing to 35 to pull into a turning lane. ouch.

NCDOT constructs turn lanes very well in most cases. Most rural 2-4 lane highways have lengthy turn lanes where there is no reason to slow down 500-750+ feet before the turning lane in dry conditions. Fast lane is passing lane by the way.

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Fast lane is passing lane by the way.

Glad somebody knows that. Wish more people did. It's not only law but also a courtesy if you're in the passing lane and able to get over for a car going obviously faster than you, you should.

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Glad somebody knows that. Wish more people did. It's not only law but also a courtesy if you're in the passing lane and able to get over for a car going obviously faster than you, you should.

But likewise-it isnt permission to go faster than the posted speed limit.

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Hence it being called a speed limit

Yep, but a lot of people think that the passing lane is really a lane for them to go faster than the rest of the traffic, which is not true. Even if you are passing someone, you are not suppose to go faster than the posted speed to do so.

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Why go through the expense of replacing every sign in the state for a measly 5 mph?

They dont even replace the sign, they patch over the numbers in most cases! Is that still too much to ask for?

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