Difference Between Freeway vs Highway

Difference Between Freeway vs Highway

Long drives can be fun, especially when the road is wide and free from cars. In your travels, you may have seen signs saying “Freeway” or “Highway.” However, did it ever occur to you what the difference is between freeway vs highway? If you’re wondering, this right article will explain the distinction between these two.

If you like analogies, then the term “All freeways are highways, but not every highway is a freeway,” may sum up the difference. The variation between these two lies on their access. One will enable access one without a speed requirement. Another will require certain speeds to be met.

Definition of Freeway

Freeway is the term more commonly used than the actual generic name for this type of highway – controlled-access highway. It is specifically structured for use of high-speed vehicles allowing for increased speed due to the absence of obstructions and traffic lights that may halt the movement of the cars.

Since it is free of signal lights, it is also one of the reasons why it is called as such. Since this type of road has controlled access, it can only permit certain vehicle types that can reach the minimum speed requirement. This is achieved through setting a minimum weight or power requirement so that light vehicles such as motorbikes won’t be given access.

This is also to ensure the safety of the light vehicles against speed-related traffic accidents. In some countries, entry and exit would require payment to limit the number of vehicles with the payment determined by length of entry and exit points.

Definition of Highway

Highway is the term designated for public pathways. This is why we go back to the analogy that every freeway is a highway but it’s not true the other way around. Regardless of whether the road is paved or not, or if it has traffic signs or just straight-out never-ending paths, as long as it is considered a major track, it is considered a highway.

Even private roads can be considered as such, as long as they are the one of the main paths that lead to another city, state, or province, then they are tagged as this. In understanding the variance between highway vs freeway, one must look at whether the usage of the path is limited.

If it isn’t, then it is the former. If it is constricted by certain rules, then it is technically under both categories. What’s clear is that you’ll have more highways than freeways. You’ll also need to be very aware of traffic rules when taking this path as all types of signals will appear alongside the road and traffic enforcers will be on the lookout for rule breakers.

If you’re still perplexed as to how these terminologies vary, you can check out the chart below, highlighting their characteristics side by side.

Main Differences Between Freeway vs Highway

We have defined both of them, and you must now have a better idea of their similarities. The chart below lists down the difference between freeway and highway in certain aspects.

Basis of Comparison FreewayHighway
Speed limitStrict implementation of minimum and maximum speed, with 60 to 70 mph as the maximumStrict implementation of maximum speed limit of about 40 to 50 mph
Traffic Signals areAbsentPresent
ExitsAre clearly markedMay or may not be marked
Entrance is availableThrough rampThrough ramp or intersection
Number of lanesCan be greater than 4Is typically up to 4 only
IntersectionsAre absentAre present
UsageIs charged as part of the highwayIs not charged

Difference Between Freeway and Highway: Conclusion

Deciphering the difference between highway and freeway is quite easy and you can get more help by checking out the definitions and side-by-side chart above. There are valid reasons why these terms exist. This protects both the pedestrians and the conveniences motorists.

It also allows for systematic travel across various locations. It is vital to know these to be able to abide by traffic rules and to educate others to do this same. There may be various terms, but this article should have given you all you needed to know.