North Carolina Is Being Ridiculous When It Comes to Speed Limits

New campaign seeks to crack down on people in the “buffer zone.”

byWill Sabel Courtney|
North Carolina Is Being Ridiculous When It Comes to Speed Limits


If you're planning on driving through North Carolina anytime between now and April 3, keep a eagle eye on the speedo needle. Or better yet, just hold off on driving in the state altogether. Because for the next week and a half, police in the state will be ticketing drivers for breaking the speed limit by as little as one mile an hour.

The full-court press on speeders is the cornerstone of the North Carolina Department of Transportation's "Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine" initiative, which is designed to remind motorists that the numbers on the speed limit sign aren't a suggestion, they're the law.

"Many Americans believe they won't be ticketed if they drive within a 'buffer zone' above the posted speed limit. But now, law enforcement will be targeting and ticketing speeding drivers," reads the N.C. DOT's statement regarding the program. It then goes all caps lock on your ass: "When it comes to speeding: Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine – the posted speed limit IS THE LAW."

Granted, the N.C. DOT can't force police officers to ticket people for doing one or two over the limit. It's up to individual law enforcement agencies to decide how rigid they want to be on the policy, and at least one North Carolina trooper has said he has no intention of pulling people over for doing one over the limit.

"We stick to the idea of troopers issuing citations for clear-cut and substantial violations," Master Trooper Chris Knox told the Greensboro News & Record. “Are troopers targeting people going 1 mph over the limit? No.”

This isn't the first time North Carolina's DOT has tried to put the fear of God in the public over minor speeding infractions. The "Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine" program ran from March 30 to April 5 last year; if you have a particular attachment to one North Carolina region, you can even see the county-by-county breakdown of tickets issued during the campaign.

Ultimately, the DOT's campaign sounds more like bureaucratic busy-bodying than a Gestapo-esque crackdown on anyone who should nudge past the upper limit. Still, if your schedule is flexible, you might want to push that Tail Of the Dragon trip to until April 4, just to be safe.