North Carolina Speed Limits – National Speed Limits in North Carolina

In North Carolina the maximum speed limit of 70 mph (113 km/h) it applies to many rural interstate highways in the state, as well as several non-interstate freeways and is relatively uncommon in much of metropolitan North Carolina. Along rural primary and secondary roads outside municipal limits, the statutory speed limit is 55 mph (89 km/h) unless otherwise posted. There is a default minimum speed limit on Interstate and primary highways only when signs are present. The minimum is 40 mph (64 km/h) if the maximum is 55 mph (89 km/h). The minimum is 45 mph (72 km/h) if the maximum is at least 60 mph (97 km/h). These minimums do not apply to vehicles that are towing other vehicles.

Inside the municipal limits, the statutory speed limit is 35 mph (56 km/h) unless otherwise posted. The downtown statutory speed limit is 20 mph (32 km/h) unless otherwise posted. “Reduce Speed Ahead” (RSA) signage is the norm whenever the speed limit drops at any level. Note that the North Carolina Department of Transportation uses the imperative verb “reduce” instead of the adjectival form “reduced” that is standard in other states, although some municipalities now use “reduced” in their signs. In addition, a speed limit drop of 15 mph (24 km/h) or greater normally includes a second warning sign after the RSA. For example, in a 55 mph (89 km/h) zone, a sign prior to the RSA sign would say “BEGIN 35 1000 FEET AHEAD” and then the 35 mph (56 km/h) posted speed limit. Three to eight lane boulevards with or without center turn lanes, range from 35 mph (56 km/h) to 50 mph (80 km/h) within municipal limits statewide.

Four-lane freeway-grade highways are generally posted at 65 mph (105 km/h) through the state of North Carolina.

60 mph (97 km/h) speed limits along non-freeway segments are growing in popularity and have replaced 55 mph (89 km/h) limits on several boulevard and expressway segments throughout the state.

School zone speed limits generally entail a 10 to 20 mph (16 to 32 km/h) reduction below the original speed limit during times of day used for school arrivals and departures. Such a speed limit would be indicated when entering the school zone. Also, the default or modified speed limit is indicated after leaving the school zone. A school zone speed limit cannot be less than 20 mph (32 km/h).

It is rare that North Carolina Department of Transportation will assign a speed drop greater than 20 mph (32 km/h). In Bertie County, the US 17 bypass in Windsor drops from 70 mph (113 km/h) to 45 mph (72 km/h). In Moore County, Shady Lane Road outside of Carthage in the Hillcrest community drops from 55 mph (89 km/h) to 30 mph (48 km/h).

Military bases are generally posted at a maximum of 50 mph (80 km/h). Fort Bragg military two-lane roadways are posted at 55 mph (89 km/h).

The state park speed limit is 25 mph (40 km/h) unless otherwise posted. These are not limited to places such as Hanging Rock State Park and Mount Mitchell State Park. The Blue Ridge Parkway is 45 mph (72 km/h). However, there are occasional 35 mph (56 km/h) stretches. The National Park Service is responsible for highway maintenance and speed enforcement on the Parkway.

The county governments of North Carolina do not have any control over speed limits or any other aspect of road operation, as there are no county roads in the state. Municipalities, on the other hand, can set speed limits on city-controlled roadways, subject to applicable state laws. Freeways and expressways with no primary route number are part of the state secondary road system and bear route numbers of 1000 or greater. Their maximum posted speed limit is 55 mph (89 km/h) with four exceptions.

The following are the only roads with 70 mph (113 km/h) limits – Interstate 40 from Old Fort to Morganton, from Statesville to Clemmons, and from Clayton to Wilmington; Interstate 77 north of Statesville; Interstate 85 from Lexington to Mile Marker 130 east of Greensboro and through Granville County; Interstate 95 from the SC state line to Exit 10 (Chicken Road), along the Fayetteville Bypass and north of Kenly to the VA state line; Interstate 140 on the Wilmington bypass; Interstate 485 for the entire length; Interstate 540 for the entire length; Interstate 795 from Goldsboro to Wilson Triangle Expressway for the entire length; US Highway 1 from the southern end of the Sanford Bypass to NC 55 in Apex; US Highway 17 on the Elizabeth City and Windsor bypasses; US Highway 29 from Reidsville to the Virginia state line; US Highway 64 from Interstate 440 to Williamston (except on the Rocky Mount bypass) and from Plymouth to Columbia; US Highway 70 on the Clayton bypass, and from Dover to New Bern; US Highway 74 / Future Interstate 74 on the Rockingham-Hamlet Bypass and from Chadbourn to Whiteville, as well as a section from NC 108 east of I-26 in Polk County to mile 187 in Rutherford County; US Highway 264 from Wendell to Greenville. These lengths make up approximately 589 miles, or 27%, of the total freeway mileage in North Carolina (405 miles or 31% of the state’s growing Interstate system).

Interstate freeways with 60 mph (97 km/h) speed limits are found along on I-26 between Asheville and Hendersonville and north of Asheville to Tennessee; I-40 between Asheville and Waynesville and through Greensboro; on I-85 in Gaston (east of US 321 to the Mecklenburg County line) and Mecklenburg counties and through Durham; on I-440 along the northern half of Raleigh’s Beltline.

Non-Interstate Freeways (US Highways) with 60 mph (97 km/h) speed limits are found along on the US 1 Henderson Bypass; US-23 Waynesville Bypass; US 64 over the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge between Manns Harbor and Manteo; US 74 Laurinburg bypass and in Brunswick County from the Leland Industrial Park to NC 133; US 301/Business 95 between Fayetteville and Eastover; the US-311 High Point Bypass and the US-401 Fayetteville bypass.

There are only two State Secondary Road freeways in the state that have a 60 mph (97 km/h) speed limit: the Wade Avenue Extension and Aviation Parkway – which are both in Raleigh.

North Carolina as well as other states operates a Safe Driving Incentive Plan (SDIP), a program that leads to insurance surcharges for moving violations based on a point system. In general, for speeding violations less than 10 mph (16 km/h) over the posted speed limit in a speed zone less than 55 mph (89 km/h), one point is assessed; two points are assessed for exceeding 10 mph (16 km/h) over the limit or speeding in a zone with a speed limit of greater than 55 mph (89 km/h).

A driver’s licence will be suspended for travelling faster than 15 mph (24 km/h) over the speed limit, provided the speed travelled is greater than 55 mph (89 km/h); suspensions can result for other speeding infractions, such as travelling faster than 75 mph (121 km/h) in a 65 mph (105 km/h) or less zone or faster than 80 mph (129 km/h) in a 70 mph (113 km/h) zone.