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What is a Highway? – Definition & Types

Definition, Meanings, and Types of Highway


Actually many types of road are called highways but the real definition of ‘what is a highway’ is as below.

“Highway is a leading and significant government-owned way which is specially constructed by the government to carry heavy traffic from one town, city, province or state to another”.

The general legal definition deals with the right of use of every member of the public, “a state or national government-owned road over which every member of the public has right to travel without any restriction”.



In simple words, the term “highway” means the right of way or a public roadway, especially between towns, cities, or states. You can also say the quickest driving route between two cities. All frequently traveled main roads from one city to another or other popular destinations are highways. These roads not only save your travel time but also travel distance.

Types of Highway

You can further divide the highways into city or district highways, provincial or state highways, and national highways. The government that constructs and maintains these highways set their name or number.

To improve road safety, efficiency, and road capacity, modern and developing countries usually categories and integrate features in the newly built highways. These highways are named controlled-access or limited-access highways, freeways, expressways, or motorways. These features are

  • Reduction of the number of locations to access these roadways
  • One way or dual carriageways with two or more lanes on each side
  • No, stop no intersection or cross-traffic
  • Underpasses and overpasses for cross traffic
  • Toll-free and traffic signals free

Why is it called a highway?

The term ‘Highway’ is way before the invention of the car and even the discovery of the USA. It first makes an appearance in the early 16th century when the Parliament of England passed the “ act 1555”. This act determined highway as “a government-owned way on which every member of the public has right to pass and repass without any hindrance at any time”.

In the 20th-century modern roadway system developed as the auto industry became popular. The world’s first controlled-access road was constructed in the United States which is “the Long Island Motor Parkway”.


Why are highways so important?

Highways are important because they have the ability to move the mass amount of traffic at high speed in less time. These also make transportation and supply of chain fast, less expensive, and more effective.

 The interstate roadway system saves money and time for the lower and middle-class person; allows generating new activities for new products, services, money, and values. The road system plays a very important role in the economic development and growth of any nation.

What is the longest highway in the world?

The Pan-American Highway is the longest highway in the world covering the length of 30,000 miles (48,000 km). It connects more than 20 countries in the American continent.

Find Out More:

What is a freeway?
Difference between Freeway and Highway
Driving Tips on Highway

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