Difference Between Freeway and Highway

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 13, 2023

       

Difference Between Freeway and Highway

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Introduction

If you go on searching about highways and freeways on the internet you would find numerous articles. It would say that “All freeways are highways, but not all highways are freeways.” But there is something more to it. Freeways are extra compensation roads in highways, where there are no traffic signals, intersections, crossings with railways or other roads. Nowadays, all highways need to have freeways to compensate for the overly increased number of automobiles. In this article, you will understand how on famous crossings of highways, people face a lot of jams; just like that there are an infinite number of articles all over the internet but this might be the right signal you are waiting for.

Freeways vs. Highways

Freeways are entered only through ramps at designated points, whereas highways are the attractive part. Vast pitched roads, with lanes, divided by medians and vehicles racing on both sides of the median. Freeways are met in between the highway, where the space is wider or where the freeway needs to be built, as decided by the project undertaken company. Though it is not our concern, freeways are separated by a strip of grass or boulders, or by a traffic barrier. Speed limits in the case of freeways are greater than highways, as they are used as traffic accumulators, or simply to maintain the traffic flow from getting destroyed due to jams. But if the jam goes on for a long time, the freeways also get blocked, and it is not free anymore as the vehicle flow is not stopping. Though freeways are very important and perform a good job of maintaining traffic across the whole highway.

Difference between freeways and highways in tabular form

  • Freeways have control access, which makes them preferable over highways. Highways do not have control access and are not as modern as freeways.
  • Freeways take care of the traffic, as they do not have any grade crossings. It has higher speed limits than highways. Highways have more jam issues, as compared with highways.
  • Highways which connect the major cities of the country are designed to give a better road experience, smooth flow of vehicles and safety to different degrees.
  • It has been everywhere that the major difference between freeways and highways is the presence of tolls. Highways have tolls in major crossings, bridges, or flyovers. Whereas, freeways do not have any tolls, which makes it a faster way to reach the destination.
  • Another difference is the connections that highways and freeways create. Freeways connect the cities. Whereas, highways go into all types of areas from rural to urban. It makes business easy for daily passers, as freeways can provide a smooth way to the destination.
  • There are many ways to access highways which makes them a little unsafe as compared to freeways. Freeways are entered only through ramps. Whereas, highways are entered through many access points like intersections, ramps and vice versa.
Parameters of comparisonFreewaysHighways
PurposeFreeways are chosen by vehicles, to avoid jams.Highways connect two cities and it is generally crowded.
Speed limitThe speed limit on freeways is more as compared to highways.The speed limit on highways is less as compared to freeways.
Variation in speedIn freeways you have no signals, so you can maintain a single speed.You must continuously change your speed on highways.
Entering roadsYou can enter a freeway only through ramps.It is connected to the main roads. You can enter a highway directly.
IntersectionsThere are no intersections in the freeways.There are many intersections on the highway because of the crowded places that come on the path.
TollgatesThere are no tollgates on the freeways. They are also known as toll-free highways.Many tollgates and bridges come on the path of the highway. And it works as intersections on highways.
Traffic SignalsThere are no traffic signals on the way to the freeway.Many traffic signals come on the way to the highway.
PreferenceGenerally, people prefer freeways over highways as they provide faster movement.They are not preferred over freeways because of the intersections faced by the people.

What are Freeways?

Freeways are also known as controlled-access highways. In simple words, these are built to accumulate traffic on the highway. As on some days, the traffic can get over-excessive than the usual. It might be the day when a great leader of some parliamentary party is arriving in the city, so to pay a visit to the rally, people come from various small towns to the city and they take the route of highways, which on any day needs a freeway to control the traffic. Nowadays, most of the country’s urban areas have freeways.

History

The idea of using some extra road and making a freeway out of it is a very moving decision. Let's come back to the point, the world's first-ever freeway was built back in the 20th century. It was known as the Long Island motor parkway situated on Long Island, New York opened in 1908 as a private venture.

Back in the 1920s, as the automobile industry faced a growth in its sales, the demand for highways also increased, just to make fast movement across the city. Paving good roads, and applying new techniques and materials, not only made the cities look good but also created jobs for the unemployed. So, you see just one cause can change the outlook of the whole city and bless the lives of people at the same time. Controlled access highways started as a private venture, later, it became a public venture and the government started to instil more projects across different cities, this also attracted other countries to start building highways. As freeways not only create faster roads but also makes the city look more maintained and routed for daily passers.

We are getting out of the lace, as automobile companies were increasing, the competition was also increasing and more vehicles were on the road. So, to compensate for that problem a first-ever controlled access highway was built to balance the traffic, and have jam-free roads across the city.

More about Freeways

Freeways are also considered toll-free highways. You can maintain high speed on freeways to have faster movements and reach your destination as early as possible. It has been noted that people prefer freeways over highways, as there are no signals on freeways. Freeways hardly face any traffic jams. It is suggested to take freeways when you travelling long distances. The journey on the freeway is continuous and it does not face any lag. It has more speed limits than average side streets. It can be entered via the entrance ramps and exited via the exit ramps. It is also said that people travelling through freeways are long-distance travellers. Specifically, there are no pedestrians to inform drivers to be careful which might lead to distracted driving.

Driving in Los Angeles is difficult, as you can meet reckless drivers anywhere. And if you face any consequences due to that reckless driving, you go through a complicated legal proceeding, where justice is a question. Most freeways have rest areas built alongside so that people can take a quick egress without exiting the road.

What are Highways?

Highways are referred to as public road that connects major cities and towns. They have higher speed limits than regular street roads as they have long and wide roads. Though they have speed limits, it is not more than the freeways. They comprise many toll gates, intersections, and traffic signals. Highways can also be two-lane with wider roads.

It is noted that when we are on highways, we encounter a lot of crowded places. And it is because of all the intersections we face on the highway. Apart from intersections, there are tollgates, which might take up your precious time, if the line of vehicles is long then you are already late. It appears that highways are not the right path.  But it is essential to understand highways are the most sustainable and vital form of roadways; where trucks loaded with heavy carriages, daily passers who visit big cities, long-distance travellers, and vice versa, all are dependent on highways and without these wide-laned roads, it is not possible to make road transport possible. And without highways, it is impossible.

National Highways of India

Major highways are often named and numbered by the government to make it easy to divide and maintain. The Indian government has developed a system known as the National Highway System (NHS). National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) are the nodal agencies responsible for building, upgrading, and maintaining most of the national highway network. It operates under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

National Highways constituted 2.7 % of India's total road network, and carry 40% of road traffic, as to the data of 2013. Most of the existing highways are now four-lane roads. Though, some have expanded to six or more lanes. These roads consist of cameras at every crossing, toll gates, and bypass. Bypasses have been constructed around large towns and cities to create easy passages for highway traffic. According to the report of 2021, the total length of national highways all across India has expanded to 151,019 km.

National Highway Act of 1956 was provided for the maintenance of highways.  It was an act passed by the government of India. Highways started as a private venture. Later, it became both a public and private venture.

National highways have flyover access and control-access highway. The entry and exit to the highway flyover are through the sides. Bypass has also been constructed for entry into the city or town. Some flyovers have interchanges between them. The national highways of India have a good connection with every small village and large city. After a long time, a system is built, to almost reach every small village, not only through pathways but through good-pitched roads constructed by the government.

The National highway system of India makes every city and village reachable by roads. For example, NH13, NH5 and vice versa. NH44 is the longest national highway in India and it is approximately 3,745 km long. It joins the northern and southern borders of India. The highway begins at Srinagar and ends at Kanyakumari.

There are also some highways, which have well-maintained roads and many more specifications. And these are called Expressways.

Expressways

Expressways are the highest class of roads. It has been constructed over complete new routes, passing near every large centre in the middle of the city. They are a very advanced form of highways in modern times. They hold a very subtle importance in today's world. Certain expressways have changed the structure of roadways across the city. It has balanced the traffic flow across the whole city. Jams are frequent, but the flow is continuous. No vehicle stays in traffic for a long time except on some mass event in the city either a cricket match or a big public holiday like New Year’s and Christmas. Though cities are changing, routes and roads are also improving; better routes have started to build and are now a major part of the development. Converting most of the highways near cities into expressways can change the city transportation, but it is a big task.

Main differences between Freeways and Highways in points

  • Freeways have control access, which makes them preferable over highways. Highways do not have control access and are not as modern as freeways.
  • Freeways take care of the traffic, as they do not have any grade crossings. It has higher speed limits than highways. Highways have more jam issues, as compared with highways.
  • Highways which connect the major cities of the country are designed to give a better road experience, smooth flow of vehicles and safety to different degrees.
  • It has been everywhere that the major difference between freeways and highways is the presence of tolls. Highways have tolls in major crossings, bridges, or flyovers. Whereas, freeways do not have any tolls, which makes it a faster way to reach the destination.
  • Another difference is the connections that highways and freeways create. Freeways connect the cities. Whereas, highways go into all types of areas from rural to urban. It makes business easy for daily passers, as freeways can provide a smooth way to the destination.
  • There are many ways to access highways which makes them a little unsafe as compared to freeways. Freeways are entered only through ramps. Whereas, highways are entered through many access points like intersections, ramps and vice versa.

Conclusion

Despite the differences, both highways and freeways have made movement faster from one place to another. They both are very essential as one connects the cities and the other takes the lead in rural or suburban areas. Because of freeways and highways, today, many people can reach their destination in due time. Though there are also drawbacks to creating these faster means of the road the burden gets balanced by the business it provides to the people. And it is for sure that roadways give the most intriguing experience than any other way.

References

  • Highway Vs. Freeway (6 Differences Explained) (thecoldwire.com)
  • Controlled-access highway - Wikipedia
  • Highway - Wikipedia

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