Freeway vs. Highway

Freeway
Highway

All freeways are highways, but not every highway is a freeway. A freeway is a "controlled-access" highway — also known as an express highway — that's designed exclusively for high-speed vehicular traffic. Traffic flow on a freeway is unhindered because there are no traffic signals, intersections, or at-grade crossings with other roads, railways, or pedestrian paths.

The main difference between freeways and multilane highways is that in the case of freeways, these roads are separated from the rest of the traffic and can only be accessed by ramps. These ramps (slip roads) allow for speed changes between the freeway and arterial thoroughfares and collector roads. 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. Traffic across a freeway is carried by overpasses and underpasses.

Around the world, freeways are known by various terms like Autobahn (Germany), autopista (Spain), autostrada (Italy) and snelweg (The Netherlands).

Comparison chart

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Freeway

Highway

At-grade crossings No Possible
Intersections or traffic signals No Possible
Ingress and egress Regulated via slip roads (ramps) From intersections or ramps

edit Highways

A highway that's not a freeway may also have long stretches that are without any intersections. But highways typically have lower speed limits, may pass through inhabited areas where there are traffic signals, pedestrians or other slower traffic.

edit Maintenance

In the U.S., state highways are maintained by state governments, but interstate highways — virtually all of which are freeways — are maintained jointly by the state and federal government.

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Comments: Freeway vs Highway

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Anonymous comments (2)

March 29, 2014, 6:24am

Very good explanation! Thanx!

— 108.✗.✗.218
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November 19, 2013, 5:10pm

Both highways and freeways are roads. However, a freeway is not a kind of highway.

A highway is the main road from one town to another. A freeway is a toll-free road

A freeway means a toll-free road. Both free and way are Old English words. A freeway might have and endpoint designation.

A turnpike means a road, which requires a direct toll to get paid to travel. Turnpike is a word of Middle English origin (1400s).

An expressway means at least a controlled-access road within the boundaries of a city.

A parkway means a controlled-access, limited-access road, typically that transverses a park. Park is a Germanic word that entered Middle English through Old French.

Controlled access to a highway, freeway, tollway, expressway or parkway means slip road (ramp) access to travel on a road lacking traffic signals and at-grade crossings like other roads, footpaths, railways.

Limited access designates permissible vehicles, typically restricting travel to passenger vehicles and prohibiting commercial vehicles, including buses that carry passengers.

— 108.✗.✗.191
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