12 Difference Between Freeway And Highway

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What Is A Freeway?

A freeway is a toll-free divided highway designed exclusively for high-speed vehicular traffic. It is generally comprised of two parallel roadways, one in each direction. The Opposing directions of traffic on a freeway are physically separated by a central reservation (median), such as a strip of grass or boulders or by a concrete barrier. Freeways are designed so as to allow motorists to move at higher without having to worry about slowing down for signals or cross traffic. They generally have at least four lanes, two in each direction.

Traffic across a freeway is carried by overpasses and underpasses. Traffic flow is generally unhindered as there are no traffic signals, intersections or at-grade crossings with other roads, railways or pedestrian path. In other words, there are no driveways or minor roadway access to the freeway.

Freeway roads are separated from the rest of the traffic and are only accessible through on and off ramps. These ramps (slip roads) allow for speed changes between the freeway and arterial thoroughfares and collector roads. These roads also have high-speed limits with emergency lanes on both sides of the roadways.

What You Need To Know About Freeway

  • A freeway is a toll-free divided highway built with full interchanges and overpasses. It is generally comprised of two parallel roadways, one in each direction, separated by a physical median or barrier.
  • Freeways have at least four lanes, two in each direction.
  • Freeway is designed so that motorists on the freeway are never required to stop for cross traffic. There are no driveways or minor roadway access.
  • Freeway roads are separated from the rest of the traffic and are only accessible through on and off ramps. These ramps (slip roads) allow for speed changes between the freeway and arterial thoroughfares and collector roads.
  • A toll road is almost always a freeway although you may have to stop at a toll booth. In some countries other than United States, freeways are referred to as expressways.
  • Traffic flow is unhindered because there are no traffic signals, intersections or at-grade crossings with other roads, railways or pedestrian path.
  • Traffic across a freeway is carried by overpasses and underpasses.
  • Freeways have emergency lanes on both sides.
  • Opposing directions of traffic on a freeway are physically separated by a central reservation (median), such as a strip of grass or boulders or by a traffic barrier.
  • All freeways are highways, but not all highways are freeways.
  • They generally have higher speed limits than highways and local roads.  

What Is A Highway?

 Highway is a general term that refers to any wide road that allows a higher volume of traffic to travel at a relatively higher speed towards a specific area. Actually, the term highway can refer to any main street connecting cities or towns or it can be the interstate road. Highways could be divided, undivided, single lane, multilane, controlled access or limited access. Travel lanes on each direction of a highway are generally separated by painted markings. Highways generally have lower speed limits than freeways, but higher speed limits than local roads. A highway may look like a freeway but it will have intersections interchanges or may have intersections and presence of traffic signals, stop signs, railroad or pedestrian crossings. A highway would typically allow driveway and local street access. It may not have a median, boulders or any traffic barrier but may have left turn lanes.

A general classification of highways ranges from:

  • Principal Arterial which includes interstate, other freeways and expressways.
  • Minor Arterial which is a main street but as busy as a principal arterial.
  • Collector, including major and minor collectors.
  • Local roads.

What You Need To Know About Highway

  • Highway is a generic term that refers to any wide road that allows a higher volume of traffic to travel at a higher speed.
  • Highways may be a single roadway, with one or more travel lanes on each direction separated only by painted markings.
  • Access of highway is controlled by traffic lights and stop signs.
  • A highway would typically allow driveway and local street access. It would typically not have a median, but may have left turn lanes.
  • They generally have lower speed limits than freeways, but higher speed limits than local roads.

Difference Between Freeway And Highway In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON FREEWAY HIGHWAY
Description A freeway is a toll-free, limited access, divided highway built with full interchanges and overpasses. Highway is a generic term that refers to any wide road that allows a higher volume of traffic to travel at a relatively higher speed towards a specific area.  
Lanes Freeways have at least four lanes, two in each direction.   A highway has at between two lanes and eight lanes.
Generalization All freeways are highways.   Not all highways are freeways.
Access Access of highways is through on and off ramps. Access of highway is controlled by traffic lights and stop signs.  
Minor Roadway Access There are no driveways or minor roadway access. A highway would typically allow driveway and local street access.  
Intersections & Exists They have no Intersections or at-grade crossings with other roads, railways or pedestrian path. They have intersections or at-grade crossings with other roads, railways or pedestrian path.
Traffic Separation Opposing directions of traffic on a freeway are physically separated by a central reservation (median), such as a strip of grass or boulders or by a traffic barrier.   Highways may be a single roadway, with one or more travel lanes on each direction separated only by painted markings.    
Speed Limits They generally have higher speed limits than highways and local roads.     They generally have lower speed limits than freeways, but higher speed limits than local roads.  
Traffic signals And Road Signs Have no any traffic lights, stop signs, railroad or pedestrian crossings. There is generally presence of traffic signals, stop signs, railroad or pedestrian crossings.
Emergency Lanes Freeways may have emergency lanes on both sides.   Highways have no emergency lanes on both sides.  
Traffic Traffic across a freeway is carried by overpasses and underpasses.   Traffic across highway is carried by overpasses, underpasses, driveways, interstate roads, collector and arterial roads.  
Presence Freeways are common in urban areas or cities. Highways can be found both in the cities and in Rural areas.