It may seem like semantics. Maybe you grew up learning the term highway or freeway so that's what you call any multi-lane road with exits and higher speed limits than regular around-town roads. Using highway, freeway, expressway, or the interstate are interchangeably and we all know what everyone means.

However, there is a difference.


leksandr mansurov
leksandr mansurov

A highway can be one lane in each direction or several lanes in each direction with varying speeds according to The Definition website and can stretch across a single state or multiple states. Highways may have stop signs or traffic signals along the way  and even railroad crossings.

Highways don't necessarily mean fast speed limits, either.


Freeway Traffic
Digital Vision.

These are what you drive on in heavily populated regions and big cities according to The Definition and are always fast-moving with multiple lanes in both directions.

On and off ramps and exits are the only way on and off freeways with no interruption in the flow of traffic. We drive on them to get from one city or town to another city or town whether it's in the same state or several states.


denys nevozhai
denys nevozhai

For the most part you can copy and paste the definition of a freeway here with these exceptions.

Expressways connect other highways or freeways within the same city or metro area only. They can have tolls and often have carpool lanes as well according to the How Things Work website.

This all said, just calling them all highways is just fine as it's basically the umbrella term since it can have all aspects of freeways and expressways while freeways and expressways cannot have all aspects of a highway.

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Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes

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