Difference Between Highway and Freeway

The number of vehicles has considerably increased in the last few years that lead to congested roads, unexpected delays, more travel time & travel cost, increased number of stops, an increase in noise levels & air pollution, inconvenience to drivers as well as passengers, and many others issues.

To control such issues roads are organized in specific ways so that traffic can be controlled effectively and adequately. And in that Highway and Freeways are the most common terms and are widely used under road transportation system.

Both highway and freeway have made road transportation efficient and faster connecting all the major and minor cities, villages, towns, respectively. But people often get confused and interchange the terms while referring to them.

Highway vs Freeway

The main difference between Highway and Freeway is that a Highway is a road that is built by the government and placed higher to the neighboring topography that usually connects the two cities and termed as a major public road. Freeways are controlled and limited-access roads with no intersections and tolls. It can be a part of a Highway with two or more lanes on each side.

Highway vs Freeway

Freeway is also known as an expressway.


Comparison Table Between Highway and Freeway (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonHighwayFreeway
DefinitionThe highway is a major public road that is placed higher on the surrounding landscape and connects two cities.Freeway is limited and controlled access roads without intersections. They are also a part of the highway.
Intersection PointLimitedNo Intersection point.
Access PointThrough specific intersection points or ramp.Through Ramp only.
ConnectsTwo Cities.It exists within the city and connects rural areas.
ServiceUrban or Metro citiesOutskirts and rural parts of the city.
Allowed Speed Limit60 kmph to 80 kmph80 kmph


What is Highway?

In simple words, Highway means “any paved road” that interlink two major cities. Traffic or vehicle can enter the Highway through ramp or intersection that is created at some distance along the length.

If bridges, bicycle ways, dividers, and traffic lights are used then it is called a protected highway. It is the major public road created by the government to link two cities that helps the locale business and work to flourish and gain access to each other.

The highway is created higher on the surrounding landscape. They are operated by the state government and all its maintenance concerning upgrades and repairs is taken care of by them.

They act as a backbone to a country’s economic growth and development because they open the entryways for inaccessible society.

Transportation of different goods or products from one state to another is majorly done through Highways only.

It is imperative for the advancement and growth of the state and people living there.

Toll exists on Highways. As major vehicles use them so specific speed limits are set i.e. 60KMph to 80KMph to avoid accidents due to rash or speed driving.


What is Freeway?

Freeway is limited and controlled access roads without intersections and is also a part of the highway.

It is named as freeway because you don’t have to pay anything to use it and it is free from stoplights, at-grade crossings, and intersections.

Traffic on freeway moves faster as compared to the highway but the speed limit is restricted between 80KMph to 90KMph. In the freeway, there are two to four lanes in each direction with a barrier in between.

Freeway connects the city outskirts and rural areas and subsequently to the highway.

They can be solely used for vehicular traffic and are not to be used by other means of transportation such as bicycles, hacks, carts, e-rickshaw, etc.

They are operated by the central government and all its maintenance concerning upgrades and repairs is taken care of by them only.

Freeway can be accessed through on-ramps and off-ramps as no intersection exists.

On Freeway you can see the large signboards in green colors with destination details i.e. kilometer left or what is the next upcoming destination, convenience services or restroom ahead, and other outdoor recreation.

All these are posted on the freeway sides or on overhead gantries.


Main Differences Between Highway and Freeway

Both Highway and Freeway, serve the purpose of travel that allows people to easily commute from one place to another. But many people interchange them in usage as they both serve a similar purpose. To summarize the difference between Highway and Freeway, refer the following:

  1. The highway is a public road that connects the two cities, whereas freeway is limited and controlled access roads connecting city outskirts and rural areas.
  2. Intersection points are there in the highway to gain access along with ramps, whereas in freeway no intersection points are there.
  3. The highway is developed and maintained by the state government, whereas the freeway is developed and maintained by the central government.
  4. Tolls exist on the highway, whereas tolls are not there on the freeway.
  5. Highways consist of two lanes only whereas in freeway two to four lanes are there.
  6. Any medium of transportation can use the highway, whereas the freeway is limited to vehicular traffic.
  7. Traffic is slow on the highway, whereas fast on the freeway.
Difference Between Highway and Freeway



The primary mean of transportation is Roads as they allow access to our nearby places or across cities. They not only connect the urban and rural areas but act as a conduit for us to various life activities.

They play a pivotal role in economic growth and development to bring basic and social benefits to people. Different types of roads are constructed for different purposes.

Highway and Freeway are two essential road transportation that serves all the purposes that we mentioned above.

Although it’s important to know the difference between Highway and Freeway from connectivity perspective and how to use the terms in the accurate context but both are imperative to make great connectivity.

As highways connect two cities and freeway connect outskirts or rural areas of the city, consequently if something has to come from rural areas to other cities or another city to the rural area, both transportation mediums will be used.

Thus both are integral and hold their own importance.

Key Differences Between Highway and Freeway (PDF Format)

Download the key differences in .PDF format, to read or print them later:

Difference Between Highway and Freeway



  1. https://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/l94-048
  2. https://trid.trb.org/view/1311856
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