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Road vs. Highway: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Updated on September 29, 2023
A road is a paved or otherwise improved path for vehicles and pedestrians, while a highway is a major road, usually wider and often controlled-access, designed for faster and more efficient travel over long distances.

Key Differences

Both road and highway are types of thoroughfares designed for vehicular travel, but they differ in their features and purposes. A road is a general term that encompasses any pathway on which vehicles can travel, regardless of size or quality. A highway, however, is usually larger, has more lanes, and is intended for faster travel.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 17, 2023
A road can exist in both urban and rural settings and may include both main and secondary routes. Highways, in contrast, are usually longer and often bypass smaller communities to expedite travel between larger cities. Roads may have stoplights, while highways typically use ramps for entry and exit to maintain a consistent speed of travel.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 17, 2023
In terms of maintenance and jurisdiction, roads can be under the control of local, state, or federal governments, and they often include pedestrian pathways, bike lanes, and parking. Highways are generally maintained by state or federal governments and rarely include accommodations for non-motorized travel.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 17, 2023
Many countries have specific regulations that apply to highways, including higher speed limits and restrictions on types of vehicles that can use them. On a road, especially within a city or town, you're likely to find lower speed limits, and more types of vehicles, including bicycles and scooters, may be allowed.
Janet White
Sep 17, 2023
While roads are ubiquitous and serve as the basic infrastructure for all types of vehicular traffic, highways are specialized types of roads designed for speed and efficiency, often as part of a national network. Highways usually feature controlled access, meaning no intersections, to allow for smoother, safer travel.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 17, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Purpose

General vehicular travel
Faster, long-distance travel
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 17, 2023

Speed Limit

Lower
Higher
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 17, 2023

Accessibility

More accessible
Controlled access
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 17, 2023

Locations

Urban and rural
Usually between cities
Aimie Carlson
Sep 17, 2023

Features

May include stoplights
Usually no stoplights
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 17, 2023
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Road and Highway Definitions

Road

A thoroughfare for vehicles and pedestrians.
The road outside my house is always busy.
Janet White
Sep 17, 2023

Highway

A toll road for faster commuting.
The toll for using this highway is $5.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 17, 2023

Road

A surface layer for vehicular travel.
The road was paved last week.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 17, 2023

Highway

A term for a major arterial road in some countries.
The Pacific Highway runs along the east coast of Australia.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 17, 2023

Road

A narrow, rural path.
We went biking on a country road.
Sara Rehman
Sep 17, 2023

Highway

A major public road designed for long-distance travel.
We took the highway to reach the city faster.
Harlon Moss
Sep 17, 2023

Road

A metaphorical path or course of action.
She's on the road to recovery.
Harlon Moss
Sep 17, 2023

Highway

A road connecting major cities.
The highway connects New York to Boston.
Harlon Moss
Sep 17, 2023

Road

Abbr. Rd. An open, generally public way for the passage of vehicles, people, and animals.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Highway

A controlled-access road.
This highway has no traffic lights.
Janet White
Sep 17, 2023

Road

The surface of a road; a roadbed.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Highway

A main public road, especially one connecting towns and cities.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

A course or path
The road to riches.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Highway

(historical) A road that is higher than the surrounding land and has drainage ditches at the sides
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

A railroad.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Highway

A main public road, especially a multi-lane, high-speed thoroughfare.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

Often roads(Nautical) A roadstead.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Highway

(figurative) A way; a path that leads to a certain destiny
You're on a highway to greatness.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

A way used for travelling between places, originally one wide enough to allow foot passengers and horses to travel, now (US) usually one surfaced with asphalt or concrete and designed to accommodate many vehicles travelling in both directions. In the UK both senses are heard: a country road is the same as a country lane.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Highway

Any public road for vehicular traffic.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

(uncountable) Roads in general as a means of travel, especially by motor vehicle.
We travelled to the seaside by road.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Highway

(computing) bus
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

(dated) A physical way or route.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Highway

To travel on a highway
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

(figuratively) A path chosen, as in life or career.
The road to happiness; the road to success.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Highway

A road or way open to the use of the public, especially a paved main road or thoroughfare between towns; in the latter sense it contrasts with local street; as, on the highways and byways.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

An underground tunnel in a mine.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Highway

A major road for any form of motor transport
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

A railway or a single railway track.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

(obsolete) The act of riding on horseback.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

(obsolete) A hostile ride against a particular area; a raid.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

A partly sheltered area of water near a shore in which vessels may ride at anchor; a roadstead.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

(obsolete) A journey, or stage of a journey.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

At the venue of the opposing team or competitor; on the road.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

A journey, or stage of a journey.
With easy roads he came to Leicester.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

An inroad; an invasion; a raid.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

A place where one may ride; an open way or public passage for vehicles, persons, and animals; a track for travel, forming a means of communication between one city, town, or place, and another.
The most villainous house in all the London road.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

A place where ships may ride at anchor at some distance from the shore; a roadstead; - often in the plural; as, Hampton Roads.
Now strike your saile, ye jolly mariners,For we be come unto a quiet rode [road].
My hat and wig will soon be here,They are upon the road.
The highway robber - road agent he is quaintly called.
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

An open way (generally public) for travel or transportation
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

A way or means to achieve something;
The road to fame
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

Taking place over public roads;
Road racing
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

Working for a short time in different places;
Itinerant laborers
A road show
Traveling salesman
Touring company
Sawaira Riaz
Apr 30, 2023

Road

A route or path with a specific destination.
The road to success is hard.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 17, 2023

FAQs

What is a highway?

A highway is a major, often controlled-access road designed for faster, long-distance travel.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 17, 2023

Can a road be a highway?

All highways are roads, but not all roads are highways.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 17, 2023

Who usually maintains roads?

Roads can be maintained by local, state, or federal governments.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 17, 2023

What is the speed limit on roads usually?

Speed limits on roads are generally lower and vary based on location.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 17, 2023

Can pedestrians walk on highways?

Generally, no. Highways are designed for vehicular traffic.
Janet White
Sep 17, 2023

What is a road?

A road is a paved or otherwise improved path designed for vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 17, 2023

Who usually maintains highways?

Highways are generally maintained by state or federal governments.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 17, 2023

What is the speed limit on highways?

Speed limits on highways are usually higher to facilitate faster travel.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 17, 2023

What types of vehicles can use roads?

Most types of vehicles can use roads, including bicycles and scooters.
Sara Rehman
Sep 17, 2023

Are there stoplights on roads?

Yes, roads often have stoplights, especially in urban areas.
Sara Rehman
Sep 17, 2023

What types of vehicles can use highways?

Usually, only motorized vehicles are allowed on highways.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 17, 2023

What's the main purpose of a road?

The main purpose is to facilitate general vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
Sara Rehman
Sep 17, 2023

Can pedestrians walk on roads?

Yes, many roads have sidewalks or pedestrian pathways.
Harlon Moss
Sep 17, 2023

Are there stoplights on highways?

Typically, no. Highways usually have ramps and exits instead.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 17, 2023

What's the main purpose of a highway?

The main purpose is to facilitate faster, long-distance travel.
Janet White
Sep 17, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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