Take a deep breath, speed demon. There is no new plan by state troopers to write blizzards of tickets for herds of drivers who go just a mile or few faster than the posted speed limit.
Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry, who oversees the Highway Patrol, says we can stop freaking out about this.
“The N.C. State Highway Patrol does not intend to change its tactics when it comes to enforcing the speed limit,” Perry said Thursday in a news release. In the email version, his words were highlighted in red.
Translation: You’re still likely to get away with driving several miles per hour faster than the law technically allows.
TV and wire service reporters, Facebook worrywarts and even local government honchos were all a-twitter this week after the Governor’s Highway Safety Program announced an occasional enforcement blitz designed to remind drivers about the un-safety of speeding.
It came with a clever rhyming slogan that emphasized the precise speed limit numbers posted on our highways: “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine.” And the announcement spoke vaguely but disparagingly of a supposed “buffer zone”: “Many Americans believe they won’t be ticketed if they drive within a ‘buffer zone’ above the posted speed limit.”
But the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, part of the state Department of Transportation, is not in the business of writing tickets and enforcing the laws – and it does not speak for the police.
Studies by The News & Observer and others have confirmed the personal observations of many drivers: Police and troopers routinely ignore drivers speeding just a few mph faster than the posted limit.
How much faster? Some people say you’re immune on the highway up to 9mph over the limit. But the Road Worrier makes no guarantees about this gossip – and, for that matter, does not endorse speeding as a way of life. Speeding leads to crashing.
State troopers know how to deal with this, Perry said.
“Our troopers still have reasonable discretion when it comes to enforcing our traffic laws,” Perry said. “Earlier reports that we would begin ticketing drivers going one or two miles over the speed limit were based on a misinterpretation of the initiative. Troopers and local law enforcement officers will continue to enforce the speed limit.”