What are statutory speed limits?

On Behalf of | Jan 8, 2022 | Traffic Tickets

Have you ever come across a stretch of a rural road in North Carolina with no signs identifying the speed limit? If so, it is not an invitation to drive as fast as you want to.

Instead, it means that statewide statutory speed limits apply. If you fail to observe statutory speed limits, you could face legal consequences for the violation.

What is a statutory speed limit?

According to the Federal Highway Administration, the legislative bodies of every state, including North Carolina, establish statutory speed limits on different types of roads within their jurisdiction. The understanding is that, wherever there is no posted speed limit on a given stretch of road, you must obey the statutory speed limit.

Cities and counties have the right to set their speed limits on roads within their jurisdictions. These may be the same as the statutory limits, but they do not have to be. Posted speed limits supersede statutory speed limits, meaning that if you see a sign with a speed limit posted, you should obey it even if it is different from the statutory limit.

What are the statutory speed limits in North Carolina?

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, statutory speed limits vary between cities and rural areas. In an incorporated municipality, the statutory speed limit allows you to go up to 35 miles per hour unless posted otherwise. In rural areas, unless there are signs to the contrary, the statutory speed limit is 55 miles per hour.

Therefore, if you do come across a stretch of a rural road in North Carolina with no signs posted, you know that the statutory speed limit applies and you should go no faster than 55 miles per hour until you see a sign informing you otherwise.