North Carolina says let’s go faster!

Have you driven on the interstate lately? Next time you do, count how many cars and trucks are actually going the speed limit. (That will be easier than counting how many cars and trucks are exceeding it.)

It’s significant because the State Senate approved legislation that permits the state Department of Transportation to designate some highways with a speed limit of 75 miles per hour. The House now takes it up.

According to the latest Elon University Poll, most North Carolina will like the increase in the speed limit. In fact, 57.7 percent of respondents approve of a speed limit increase and 39.9 percent oppose.

“This issue has major generational and gender gaps,” Assistant Poll Director Jason Husser said. “Support was 18 points higher for men than women and 35 points higher for 18-30 year olds than those 65 or older.

“However, it’s one of those rare bipartisan issues with majority support in both parties – 52 percent of Democrats and 60 percent Republicans want to raise the limit.”

Now, assuming it becomes law, there are two major questions looming:

* Will people interpret a 75-mph speed limit to mean they can drive five to 10 mph over that? Most definitely.

* Will the accident rate go up? Most probably.

If it becomes law, North Carolina would become the second state on the East Coast, after Maine, to let some drivers go 75 mph. Can you imagine I-95 when the speed limit is even faster? Maybe toll booths at the state line will slow traffic. Momentarily.

— John Robinson

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