Debunking the 10 mph speed buffer: Why one state could lead to more tickets nationwide

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RALEIGH, N.C. — How fast can you go on the highway without attracting the attention of police? Anything under 10 miles per hour over the speed limit is okay, right?

Drive anywhere from 1 to 9 miles per hour over the limit and you’ll avoid the flashing lights, the theory goes.

Many people believe that such a ‘buffer law’ exists, or is an unwritten rule among police.

Not true.

Some states have laws requiring automated speed cameras to have such a buffer, but officers on the road have no such limitations.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is about to crack down on this myth, according to WTVD, and other states could soon follow.

The governor’s highway safety program is ramping up what’s being called “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine” speeding enforcement crackdown.

Law enforcement says they’ll target and ticket anyone driving above the posted speed limit – even one mile over – beginning Thursday.

North Carolina is the latest state to take the lead in debunking the myth.

If the campaign is successful, it’s likely other states could announce similar safety campaigns.


  • Jodi

    They have to allow a buffer because not all cars are calibrated the same. So what happens if you have your car set on cruise for 70 mph but they claim you were going 71 mph?? I though that was the whole reason why they allowed at least a 5 mph buffer. There has to be some leeway.

    • Darren Lee Martinsen

      Exactly Jodi. People also change the size of tires on their cars and don’t recalibrate the speedo. My wife’s Lexus has no modifications but the speedometer is off a mile or two. No manufacturer or driver is going to be spot on.

    • Chrisco

      You take it a official dealership for the brand in question and them re-calibrate the car. Then you take the form to court to prove your car was off. At least here they dismiss the ticket.

  • Jim Yearsley

    The problem with this approach is that the officer in the patrol car has much more common sense than the moron pushing this revenue enhancement idea. The officer will always use his/her judgement. drive with the traffic flow and you will be fine 99% of the time.

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