In this era when seemingly everyone holds an interactive GPS-powered digital map in their hands, the state Department of Transportation still finds a ready audience for its paper road map of the state.
The latest version, for 2017-2018, just hit the street. It’s free and available at DOT offices, state welcome centers and rest areas, and numerous local visitors centers and chambers of commerce. Maps also can be ordered online at www.VisitNC.com/StateMap or by calling 1-800-VisitNC.
DOT has printed 1.75 million copies of the map and expects to distribute them all over the next two years. That’s 250,000 fewer maps than the previous edition and a half million less than in 2013-2014. The last time DOT printed so few maps was in 2008, when they were still being published annually; the maps have been published every other year since the 2009-2010 edition.
In a nod to the availability of digital maps, NCDOT notes that its paper products “can be accessed no matter the strength of a WiFi or cellular signal.” But with millions in circulation, it’s clear there are people who still prefer to unfold a paper map on a table or in the car, rather than continually adjusting an electronic screen, says NCDOT spokesman Steve Abbott.
And there are advantages to being able to see the whole state at once, Abbott said.
“For example, if you are going from Raleigh to Charlotte and looking for an alternate way besides I-40, on a paper map you can see all the alternate routes available and which towns you would be going through, and maybe see a stop or two you want to make, all right in front of you,” he said. “Something almost impossible electronically.”
Vicky Temple Huband says there’s nothing like a paper map to help people see where they are in relation to other places. Huband works at the information desk at the N.C. Museum of History in downtown Raleigh, which also serves as the state’s Capital Area Visitor Center. She’s used to helping visitors from out of town, out of state and, increasingly, out of the country who may have used their phones to get to the museum but still don’t know where they are.
“They’re only GPS knowledgeable,” Huband said.
So she stocks plenty of walking maps of downtown Raleigh, with a road map of Wake County on the back, and keeps a stack of DOT highway maps handy. Huband says she gives out about 250 of the DOT maps a year.
“When people ask, ‘Where’s Charlotte?’ I pull out the map and show them where they are,” she said.