Highway vs Motorway: Difference and Comparison

Some roads seem to have more traffic and some a little less, some are crowded with pedestrians and cyclists, and some are just devoid of them. This may seem, standard, but there is a reason behind these happenings.

Some roads are made considering critical issues, such as tight passageways for drivers. Depending on the purpose, the streets are called with different names.

Key Takeaways

  1. Highways are major roads for high-speed traffic, while motorways are specifically designed for faster traffic with controlled access and no intersections.
  2. Motorways have stricter rules and regulations, prohibiting pedestrians, bicycles, and slower vehicles, while highways permit a wider range of traffic.
  3. Motorways have higher speed limits than highways due to their controlled access and safer design.

Highway vs Motorway

Highways are major roads designed for high-speed traffic and longer distances, free and accessible to the public. They are used for long-distance travel and connect cities and regions. Motorways are designed for high-speed traffic and longer distances, with limited access points and interchanges.

Highway vs Motorway

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The term highway is used to describe any significant road along,g with the streets that can be used to drive our way out from one place to another.

The highway is a broader term for freeways (high-speed) and arterial roads. It is used to describe any route with access to the public.

Highwayman is an infamous name that originated from this word, a robber who steals from people on roads.

Motorways, also called controlled-access highways, are meant to serve travellers with a faster and quicker path to their destination. In its strict sense, no pedestrian or cyclist can travel on such roads.

It also eliminates all the stops and crossings with the use of flyovers. Flyovers allow travellers to move faster, and this type of road is considered the safest.

This word is commonly used in Great Britain and is called freeway in the USA.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonHighwayMotorway
DefinitionIt may have trails and crossways.Motorways are a type of highway that allows a faster mode of travel.
Footpaths and crosswaysIt doesn’t have any traffic signals to ensure hassle-free passage.It is devoid of such facilities.
SafetyIt is not considered very safe.It is considered the safest form of road.
Traffic signalsIt may have traffic signals.It doesn’t have any traffic signal to ensure hassle-free passage.
FlyoversIn certain types of highways, flyovers are absent.Flyovers are a must in case there is any railway crossing.

What is a Highway?

Tracing back to history, we find that the primary purpose of the highway was to provide a passage for people on foot or horses.

The gradual development of roads and means of transport gave way to the addition of cars, pedestrians, and cyclists. Now highways are a way to connect two different places and boost the economy of the land.

It has mainly contributed to the no of taxpayers in the USA.

Pan-American Highway is one of the largest road networks in the world. The USA is one of the heavily connected countries regarding roadways, competing with big economies like China for the 1st spot.

The Australian Highway 1 covers almost Australia’s entire coastline, making it one of the spectacular feats of road engineering.

It has brought a lot of ease into people’s lives and has allowed nations to level up the connectivity and prosperity of the people. With all the advancements in road-building technology, their length is increasing daily.

Every human development leaves some dirty trail behind, and highways are no exception.

Highways are a significant cause of noise and air pollution around the area they pass.

They also add to the no of death rates, and road accidents have become a common cause of death of people in their 20s and teens.

It also leads to many conflicts as governments must either lease or take the land to build these roads.


What is Motorway?

With so many synonyms like a freeway and expressway, the technical word used for Motorway is Controlled-access highways. The term is more commonly used in Britain to denote roads that connect two cities and give faster passage.

Motorways are highly protected and advanced type roads to ensure smooth and fast travel between points.

Motorways are designed without footpaths or cycling paths to ensure a smooth vehicle run. They also do away with road or railway crossing with a flyover or an underpass.

The safest road in the entire highway community boasts a meagre rate of accidents. They allow smooth passage to other types of roads by providing a ramp to lower the speed of the vehicles.

It helps cut time and provides a smooth and safe driveway. It also does not give any traffic lights, making it easier to navigate without any stoppage.

Speed limits are high when compared with other types of highways. This gives an invitation to the low reaction time for the drivers.

To fight, these motorways are equipped with regular and large signboards.

The guide signs are floated in such a way that they are visible. They are hung on overhead gantries and can be found hanging on the overpasses.

It helps the visitors with explicit knowledge of all the lanes and other necessary information, such as the kilometres they need to travel to reach a particular destination.


Main Differences Between Highway and Motorways

  1. A highway is a broader concept encompassing all types of roads, whereas motorways are a special type.
  2. Highways may have crossings and read lights, whereas motorways lack these things.
  3. A highway has a slightly low-speed limit compared to a motorway which is supposed to have high-speed limits.
  4. A motorway is the safest form of all roads, while a highway can be a little dangerous.
  5. On a highway, we can see pedestrians walking on footpaths which is not the case with motorways.
  6. Motorways have slightly larger guideposts so as to give the driver an advantage, whereas on highways, it is slightly little.
Difference Between Highway and Motorway
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094119016300031
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40870-020-00237-9
  3. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0096144216656603
  4. https://www.icevirtuallibrary.com/doi/pdf/10.1680/ahobm.01596.fm
  5. https://trid.trb.org/view/840898

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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