7 North Carolina Traffic Laws Drivers Commonly Ignore

North Carolina motorists frequently ignore important traffic laws, such as not following too closely or yielding before making a left turn.

When everyone follows the rules of the road, driving becomes safer. With this in mind, each North Carolina driver is responsible for knowing and obeying the state’s traffic laws.

Despite this, some drivers routinely flaunt the rules of the road. In this article, we’ve compiled seven of the most commonly ignored traffic laws. Read on to discover what they are and how you can be a better motorist.

Learn more with these additional resources:

1. North Carolina Slower Traffic Keep Right Law: The “Move Over” Rule

If you drive below the speed limit, North Carolina requires you to stick to the right-hand lane. Once you see a sign directing you to move over, such as “Slower Traffic Keep Right,” you must stay out of the highway’s left lane.

The only exceptions to this “keep right” law are when you are passing another vehicle or preparing to make a left turn.

Any vehicle proceeding at less than the legal maximum speed limit shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for thru traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the highway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn.

When appropriate signs have been posted, it shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle over and upon the inside lane, next to the median of any dual-lane highway at a speed less than the posted speed limit when the operation of said motor vehicle over and upon said inside lane shall impede the steady flow of traffic except when preparing for a left turn.

“Appropriate signs” as used herein shall be construed as including “Slower Traffic Keep Right” or designations of similar import.

NC Stat. § 20-146

2. North Carolina Flow of Traffic Law: The “Minimum Speed” Rule

There is no statewide minimum speed on North Carolina highways. However, driving at a pace that slows or blocks the normal flow of traffic is illegal. Unless you need to move slowly for safety or to comply with the law, you cannot impede traffic by driving too slowly.

No person shall operate a motor vehicle on the highway at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law; provided, this provision shall not apply to farm tractors and other motor vehicles operating at reasonable speeds for the type and nature of such vehicles.

NC Stat. § 20-141(h)

3. North Carolina Driving in Left Lane Law: The “Passing on the Left” Rule

When you go to pass another driver in North Carolina, you must do so on the left. You must also keep at least two feet away from their vehicle. Make sure you completely overtake the other motorist before moving back to the right lane.

If you need to enter the lanes of oncoming traffic to pass, you must ensure those lanes are clear. You cannot move left of center unless there is enough distance between you and any vehicles traveling in the opposite direction to complete the pass safely.

When another driver goes to overtake you by passing on the left, you have to allow them to pass. You cannot speed up until their pass is completed.

The driver of any vehicle overtaking another vehicle shall pass at least two feet to the left thereof, and shall not again drive to the right side of the highway until safely clear of such overtaken vehicle.

Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle while being lawfully overtaken on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of his vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

NC Stat. § 20-149

The driver of a vehicle shall not drive to the left side of the center of a highway, in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be made in safety.

NC Stat. § 20-150

4. North Carolina Rear-End Collision Law: The “Following Too Closely” Rule

In North Carolina, illegal tailgating is defined as following more closely than is reasonable and prudent. Because a “reasonable” distance can change based on weather and traffic, what is considered safe on a sunny day may be illegal tailgating during a thunderstorm.

The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.

NC Stat. § 20-152

5. North Carolina Mobile Phone Driving Law: The “Hands-Free Driving” Rule

You cannot type or read text messages or emails while driving on North Carolina roads. Hands-free usage while driving is allowed unless you are under 18 years old. In that case, you can only use a cell phone in an emergency or to speak with your parents, guardians, or spouse. If you’re under 18, you can also use a phone once the car stops.

No person under the age of 18 years shall operate a motor vehicle on a public street or highway or public vehicular area while using a mobile telephone or any additional technology associated with a mobile telephone while the vehicle is in motion. This prohibition shall not apply to the use of a mobile telephone or additional technology in a stationary vehicle.

The provisions shall not apply if the use of a mobile telephone is for the sole purpose of communicating with:

  • Any of the following regarding an emergency situation: an emergency response operator; a hospital, physician’s office, or health clinic; a public or privately owned ambulance company or service; a fire department; or a law enforcement agency.
  • The motor vehicle operator’s parent, legal guardian or spouse.

NC Stat. § 20-137.3

It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a vehicle on a public street or highway or public vehicular area while using a mobile telephone to manually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person; or eead any electronic mail or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device.

NC Stat. § 20-137.4A

6. North Carolina Four-Way Intersection Law: The “4-Way Stop” Rule

When two motorists reach a four-way intersection at the same time in North Carolina, the driver to the left should yield the right of way. The right can proceed through the intersection first.

When two vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.

NC Stat. § 20-155

7. North Carolina Left Turn Intersection Law: The “Right of Way” Rule

Before you make a left turn, North Carolina law requires you to yield the right of way. You must first let traffic headed in the opposite direction safely clear. Then, you can proceed with the left turn.

The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.

NC Stat. § 20-155

Be sure to keep these seven traffic laws in mind the next time you head out on North Carolina’s roads. It will make you a safer and more courteous driver. By obeying the rules of the road, you can avoid getting a ticket and help prevent auto accidents.

Amy Grover is a licensed attorney in the state of Ohio. After graduating magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, then passing the bar exam in 2014, Amy began her diverse career as a practicing attorney. Amy has a range of experience in the legal field, including work with the Department... Read More >>