Southern Shores reduces N.C. 12 speed limit

By on August 5, 2022

Council unanimously approves year-round measure at Aug. 2 meeting


At its Aug. 2 meeting, the Southern Shores Town Council unanimously voted to reduce the current speed limit on its stretch of N.C. 12 from 45 to 35 miles per hour on a year-round basis. The move comes following an North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) traffic study that was conducted over the last year at the request of council

Town Manager Cliff Ogburn told the Voice that the speed limit will go into effect as soon as NCDOT puts up the new signs.

According to the traffic study, there have been 154 accidents on that stretch of N.C. 12 between 2017 and 2022. One of those accidents resulted in a fatality and 23 of them resulted in injuries. During the meeting, Mayor Elizabeth Morey pointed to that data, noting that “The crash rate is higher than the statewide rate for this type of road. I thought that was significant.”

The speed limit on N.C. 12 is currently 45 miles per hour, with an exception from May 15 through September 15, when it is reduced to 35 miles per hour from the southern town line north to Trout Run. Both the NCDOT and town staff have recommended the speed limit reduction.

“Setting the speed limit at a consistent rate through town would be less confusing to all motorists,” the town staff’s recommendation read. “Shoulder seasons are reaching well beyond September, and traffic remains heavy during a larger portion of the year. This increase in traffic will likely continue to make the case for the lower speed limit.”

The town recommendation noted that with a speed limit of 35 mph, low speed vehicles would be permitted to use N.C. 12 in Southern Shores.

Speaking to the NCDOT study, Ogburn said at the meeting that speed is not the only thing considered in the study, but also other data such as crashes, pedestrian use and curb cuts along the stretch of highway. He added that state statute gives municipalities the authority to set the speed limit even though it is a state road.

“[One] thing we know for certain is that speed matters when there is an accident,” Morey asserted. “In other words, when there’s a vehicle on vehicle, or a vehicle on a bicycle, or a vehicle on pedestrian [crash], the speed of the vehicle matters. And I think if we have a thirty-five rather than a forty-five [mph speed limit], we’ll have potentially better outcomes when we have those interactions.”

For her part, Councilwoman Paula Sherlock noted that the study indicated that there were 202 driveways along N.C. 12 in Southern Shores, along with 21 intersections with no traffic light and four intersections with traffic lights.

“There are a number of crosswalks and I know that residents want more crosswalks, but I don’t think it’s really safe to be putting crosswalks when you’ve got a forty-five mile-an-hour speed limit,” she added. If you reduce it to thirty-five, then I think people have a chance of safely getting across the road.”

Sherlock also said that although there are not a lot of big curves, there is a lot of vegetation that minimizes sight distances. “I think there’s also a value of having a consistent speed limit through the whole town because when you hit Duck, it goes back to twenty-five.”





NOTICE TO CONTRACTORS:  BIDDER PRE-QUALIFICATION REQUEST:  Barnhill Contracting has been selected as the Construction Manager at Risk by Dare County and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade and specialty contractors to submit bids for furnishing Labor, Material, Equipment, and Other for the new “Dare County – EMS 1 / Fire Station 14” (KDH) located in Kill Devil Hills, NC.  PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The scope of the project encompasses approximately 36,000 sqft of new construction and 18,000 sqft of demolition on a 3.5-acre site located at the 1630 N Croatan Highway, Kill Devil Hills, NC. The project includes masonry bearing walls supporting a Standing Seam Metal Roof over Light Gauge Trusses housing administrative, living and support spaces along with 6 apparatus bays. Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages: BP750 – Turnkey Siding. Additional Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business participation is encouraged. Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals to Meredith Terrell by December 2, 2022, via email at or mail to PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (Office Location – 4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612). PREQUALIFICATION FORMS CAN BE OBTAINED from BuildingConnected through this Invite under the “File” tab or from BuildingConnected link on the Barnhill, Bidding Opportunities website at by selecting “Dare County – EMS 1 / Fire Station 14 – Prequalification”, or by contacting Meredith Terrell  (919-604-2367). Please submit completed prequalification forms A and B along with all required supporting documentation and with All Bid Packages you are Prequalified for Checked. Form B must be submitted for this project. Form A is good for 1-Year and if you have submitted one to Barnhill within the last year, it should still be valid. If you are unsure, please verify this with Meredith. Target Bid Date: January 2023



  • ed

    Have you ever published anything about Southern Shores on the site that was not immediately met with a bunch of people on Facebook spewing all their hate toward the town? Maybe write a story about how no place on any coast has parking for everyone all the time. Or that they can certainly go to the beach, but that their cars aren’t people and don’t have rights, so ride a bike like the guests and locals in town do. Or that the renters in Southern Shores have been paying occupancy tax just like everyone for a decade, so of course the town should get some of the fund back. Or that all that cut through traffic burns approx. 4.3 million gallons of gas while those cars idle here in the county, screwing up all our air, and that the bridge would fix that. You have the power to tell both sides of this and curb some of the hate, if you want.

    Friday, Aug 5 @ 4:01 pm
  • Nancy Millich

    I lived in KDH 30 yrs ago, but still love NC. When I come down and cross the state line, all my stress disappears. The motto should be “no worries, no hurries”. Great idea to lower the speed limit. Most tourists aren’t on a strict schedule. They should slow down and relax. Those accident statistics are not good. Glad you took some action.

    Friday, Aug 5 @ 9:19 pm
  • Stuck in traffic

    Hey Ed,
    You guys throw out the bridge every time you have traffic issues! Well , that’s going to be a entire new set of traffic issues. You guys blocked off your streets, and then had to say that was causing more head aches. So you stopped that.

    This will only do two things. Help the cops write more tickets. The other will be a help for the traffic studies. It will say that traffic flow sux . Then everyone can say we need a bridge.

    That 25 mile and hour Duck speed limit in the winter is as dumb as 35 in SS will be. Locals can park on the streets close to the beach in your town. So, I’m not buying your crosswalk crap.

    It’s Ducks issue and a Jug Handle around it would be great!


    Thanks SS for slowing all of us up some more.
    I’m so thankful I moved outta SS.

    Friday, Aug 5 @ 9:30 pm
  • Why not stoplights?

    The aversion to traffic lights continues…why?

    “For her part, Councilwoman Paula Sherlock noted that the study indicated that there were 202 driveways along N.C. 12 in Southern Shores, along with 21 intersections with no traffic light and four intersections with traffic lights.

    “There are a number of crosswalks and I know that residents want more crosswalks, but I don’t think it’s really safe to be putting crosswalks when you’ve got a forty-five mile-an-hour speed limit,” she added. If you reduce it to thirty-five, then I think people have a chance of safely getting across the road.”

    Saturday, Aug 6 @ 4:31 am
  • Willy C

    It’s going to be faster to cut threw duck woods than go around on NC 12

    Saturday, Aug 6 @ 10:33 am
  • Paul

    Is it speed or volume that is the root cause of the increased number of incidents. When there is only one access and continuous building without improving the infrastructure the increase number of incidences are bound to occur. This not unique to Hwy12 but is a common symptom in all locales big and small. Before expanding improve the infrastructure to support it.

    Saturday, Aug 6 @ 11:08 am
  • Ed

    Hey Stuck, you never lived here, or if you did, you never had to cross 12 with a stroller or wagon or little kids and idiots going 55 through town. Until you have, all you are is another mouth with no realistic ideas.

    Saturday, Aug 6 @ 1:18 pm
  • Barnett Hathaway

    I believe 5 mph is a better idea.

    Saturday, Aug 6 @ 2:22 pm
  • Buck Constanza

    I love seeing the speed limit changes, slow down people! All the roads from Southern Shores to Corolla should be no faster than a max speed for a golf cart. Look at Ocracoke, everyone is happy there.

    Saturday, Aug 6 @ 4:13 pm
  • Andy Moynahan

    Reducing the speed limit in the summer has already done nothing to improve safety. There have been plenty of accidents on the 35 MPH section of NC-12 since the limit was reduced.

    The safety issue is congestion on NC-12. Getting all of the people jamming up the roads on Saturday safety off of the island ahead of a hurricane is risky. On Saturday, the public safety system breaks down because emergency vehicles can’t get through to provide mutual aid and a patient stuck in traffic doesn’t get the care they need.

    Do the work, BUILD THE BRIDGE.

    Lowering the speed limit is going to allow golf carts on the major road through town. Given the many golf cart accidents that happen where they can travel now, this change is going to have exactly the opposite effect that is advertised. People are going to get hurt.

    Saturday, Aug 6 @ 5:34 pm
  • Philip Sigfrinius

    The Town of Southern Shores continues to do everything they can to overstep their authority. There is absolutely no reason that this should be 35 during the off-season.

    Saturday, Aug 6 @ 9:04 pm
  • BK

    Anyone ever think traffic agents if cops can’t or won’t direct traffic!
    Trained agents can keep traffic moving and provide more seasonal employment.

    MCBridge won’t solve Rt12 or Duck impediments. Regardless any bridge with the increased rental market now almost year round RT 12 needs an emergency lane.

    And seems changing check in days hasn’t work instead of a single day challenge now you can’t get through Duck from Thursday to Sunday. In past 4 weeks I’ve had to cancel 2 doctor appointments because 12 was totally backed up for miles.

    IMO trained traffic agents can direct turns, evaluate and control pedestrian crossings, etc.
    If there is an incident they can radio for LE back up.

    Sunday, Aug 7 @ 12:05 pm
  • Dallas

    Instead of ruining it for everybody why not stop giving drivers licenses to people who can’t drive.

    Monday, Aug 8 @ 5:54 am
  • Steven

    The only solution would be a large effort to discourage current demographic from visiting.

    Monday, Aug 8 @ 8:45 am
  • Matthew

    I just don’t see the reason to slow it down in the off season. I understand slowing it down with the amount of traffic in the summer months but year around ??? Come on that just doesn’t do anyone any good

    Monday, Aug 8 @ 12:31 pm
  • Steven

    Same problem in Hatteras, 45mph during the nine month season, then 35 for the three month offseason.
    45mph causes pedestrians to get hit, children to get hit, and pets killed.
    Even at 35mph a young boy was struck recently, and a pedestrian hit in crosswalk.
    35 year round just makes sense..

    Wednesday, Aug 10 @ 7:00 am