Difference Between Highway and Motorway

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 a pretty normal thing but there is a reason behind these happenings.

Some roads are made keeping in mind some important issue such as fast passageway for drivers. Depending on the purpose the roads are called with different names.

Highway vs Motorway

The main difference between highway and motorway is that highways are any kind of road be it public or private whereas a motorway is a special kind of road which is designed for giving a faster passage for the travelers. A motorway is a British term used for the roads that do not host any pedestrian or cyclist. It is also devoid of any crossing so as to provide uninterrupted and faster passage. Hence, by definition, a motorway is a kind of highway.

Highway vs Motorway

The term highway is used to describe any major road that along with the roads that can be used for the purpose of driving our way out from one place to another.

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

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

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

It also eliminates all the stops and crossings with the use of flyovers. The use of flyovers allows travelers 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 Between Highway and Motorway

Parameters of ComparisonHighwayMotorway
DefinitionHighways are any kind of road that connects two destinations.Motorways are a type of highway that allows a faster mode of travel.
Footpaths and crosswaysIt may have footpaths and crossways.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 Highway?

Tracing back to history we find that the main 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 contributed largely 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 when it comes to roadways competing with big economies like China for the 1st spot.

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

It has brought a lot of ease into the lives of people and has given nations an opportunity to level up the connectivity and prosperity of the people. With all the advancements in the technology of road building their length is increasing every day.

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

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

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

It also leads to a lot of conflicts as governments need to either lease or take the land for building these roads.

What is Motorway?

With so many synonyms like a freeway, expressway the technical word used for Motorway is Controlled-access highways. The term is more commonly used in Britain to denote highways 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 any footpath or any cycling path to ensure a smooth run for the vehicles. 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 very low 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 a lot of time and provides a smooth and safe driveway. It also does not provide any traffic lights which makes it easier to navigate without any stoppage.

Speed limits are generally 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 frequent and large signboards.

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

It helps the visitors with clear knowledge of all the lanes and other necessary information such as the number of kilometers they need to travel to reach a certain destination.

Main Differences Between Highway and Motorway

  1. A highway is a broader concept that encompasses all types of roads whereas motorways are a special type of highway.
  2. Highways may have crossings and read lights whereas motorways lack these things.
  3. A highway has a slightly low-speed limit when compared with 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


Highways are a means to connect two places. They can be of any type a public or private one.

However, according to history, they were only used by people on foot or horses but due to the development, they have been encroached by cars and other automobiles.

Modern highways can have a footpath to give way to people to walk on and also some space for cycles as well. They have traffic lights and have a lower speed limit in most cases.

Motorways are a type of highway that facilitates a seamless and relatively faster journey for the drivers. They have some special features that distinguish them from other forms of roads.

The traffic lights are missing, so are the crossroads to provide an uninterrupted driving experience. The speed limit is generally high and the guide signs that hang over overpasses are bigger in physical appearance.


  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
Search for "Ask Any Difference" on Google. Rate this post!
[Total: 0]
One request?

I’ve put so much effort writing this blog post to provide value to you. It’ll be very helpful for me, if you consider sharing it on social media or with your friends/family. SHARING IS ♥️

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments