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What’s The Difference Between a Route and a Highway?

Routes, Highways, and Knowing The Difference

Transporting heavy loads across state highways and routes can be confusing and stressful, especially for those new to heavy equipment shipping. There are different classifications for various types of roads.

This article will explore the difference between a route and a highway so you’re not too confused the next time someone asks you which one to take.

What is a Highway?

A highway is a major road designed for high-speed travel. Highways are usually divided into multiple lanes and are typically separated from residential areas by a guardrail. The government generally maintains them, and highways are open to all traffic, including oversize load shipping.

Highways are typically well-marked, easy to navigate, and most are numbered. They are usually connected to a more extensive road system that links major cities and towns, making them ideal for long-distance travel.

There are several types of highways, including:

  • Interstate Highways – part of the national highway system and are typically the most heavily traveled.
  • State Highways – maintained by the state government and are usually less heavily traveled than interstate highways.
  • Toll Roads – not all highways are toll roads, but many require a fee.
Shipping a white utility truck on a transport trailer.

What is a Route?

The term “route,” which means “regularly used path or course,” is commonly applied to more minor, neighborhood-specific thoroughfares. Routes can include all modes of types of roads, such as vehicle roads, walking, and bike paths.

Most of the time, they’ll have a number attached to them corresponding to the significance of the road in question. For instance, “Route 1” may refer to the primary thoroughfare linking three or more towns.

Distinguishing Between Highways and Routes

Unlike routes, highways typically receive more traffic, are wider, and facilitate high-speed travel. They usually carry a number designation, such as “Highway 10” or “Highway 101,” to indicate whether the road spans multiple regions or one area.

The two also differ in terms of structure and maintenance.

A highway typically has a higher speed limit and more lanes to accommodate the higher traffic volumes.

Meanwhile, a route takes a more “scenic” approach, making its way through populated areas and across natural features like rivers and mountains.

Additionally, routes might have various access points, such as:

  • Dirt Roads
  • Driveways
  • Off-the-beaten-path roads, not connected to main roads.

Highways typically have on and off ramps with multiple signs to distinguish direction.

Transporting a blue dump truck on a step deck trailer.

Pros of Routes Over Highways

Routes have several benefits over highways. There is typically less traffic on routes, which enables motorists to experience a more tranquil and scenic drive. They can also be more direct, reducing the time needed to get where you’re going. Additionally, routes have more access points, allowing passengers to take detours or discover new locations.

Pros of Highways Over Routes

Highways also have several benefits that a route lacks. They are great since they are usually well-marked and easy to use. It’s common for them to be linked to a more extensive network of roads, making it easier for drivers to go where they need to.

Furthermore, highways are usually well-kept and safe. Because of this, they are perfect for trips across the country. Because they are maintained by the government, highways tend to have smoother roads.

How Do You Choose The Best Road for Transport?

When choosing between a road and a highway, it is essential to consider distance, weather, and travel time. Think about how far and long it will take you to get there before deciding which option to take.

Highways are preferable for long-distance travel since they usually connect to a more extensive road network. On the other hand, a route can provide a more scenic drive if that is what you are after.

Finally, take into account the weather and time of day. During rush hour, highways may become more congested, while bad weather can make routes more challenging to navigate.

Heavy Haulers Final Thought

To sum up, routes are smaller, more localized roads, whereas highways are wider roads with a number designation. While routes may include all modes of transportation, highways are typically restricted to motor vehicles. Routes generally have fewer access points and are less heavily maintained than highways, which usually have more access points and are better maintained.

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