What is the Difference Between Expressway and Freeway

The main difference between expressway and freeway is that an expressway is a limited-access road whereas a freeway is a controlled-access road.

Both expressways and freeways effectively manage traffic. They allow vehicles to move in a single direction without stopping here and there. Driving on these roads is different from driving on a normal road.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is an Expressway 
     – Definition, Features 
2. What is a Freeway
     – Definition, Features 
3. Difference Between Expressway and Freeway
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Expressway, FreewayDifference Between Expressway and Freeway - Comparison Summary

What is an Expressway

An expressway is a divided highway with partial control of access. It has intersections but no entrances. It does not also allow direct access to adjacent properties. Expressways can, however, have interchanges. There are no pedestrians and slow-moving vehicles in expressways. Usually, they are made over completely new routes. They do not pass through largely populated areas but only near them. High speed, safety, comfort, and convenience for both the drivers and passengers, and low vehicle operating costs are the main advantages of expressways. Expressways can also handle large traffic volumes, and their collision rates are low when compared to other roads.

Tips for Driving in an Expressway

When driving on an expressway, you should carefully obey speed signs and stop signs since it takes a long time to slow down and stop the vehicle at intersections due to its high speed. You should be aware of intersections at hills or curves because they provide little reaction time due to low visibility. At the same time, you should be careful of trees and bushes along the sides since they might block your vision of the oncoming vehicles. When you cross an expressway from a side road, you should be careful because the vehicles are driving faster than they appear to.

It is also important to be aware of “One-Way signs,” “Divided Highway,” and “Do Not Enter” signs at the intersections because this is a divided highway, and if you turn, you should turn your vehicle to the correct lane. When doing this and also when turning lanes, you must use turning signals to avoid accidents.

Expressway vs Freeway

When it is raining, foggy, or snowy, you should turn on your headlights so that other drivers can see you easily. And when it is windy, it is better if you can slow down your vehicle. If there is an emergency vehicle flashing warning siren, you should allow that vehicle to pass by, giving necessary space.

If you encounter a breakdown on an expressway, stay calm and pull over to the side of the lane without stopping in the traffic lane. You should be far enough from the road so that you can open the door and step down without stepping into the traffic. You should also be extra careful at night, and you can turn on emergency flashers or display distress signs.

What is a Freeway

A freeway is a divided, restricted-access highway. There are no at-grade intersections, stop signs, railroad crossings, or traffic lights on a freeway. Freeways have at least two lanes in each direction and do not include toll booths.

Driving on a freeway is a bit challenging since they need to merge into fast-moving traffic. When entering a freeway, you should turn on your signals and accelerate to a safe speed; after checking the mirrors to see whether you have a safe distance, you can merge into the traffic. Then, you should drive according to the speed limit, flow of traffic, and weather and road conditions. Remember, you should never drive faster or slower than the traffic. You can shift to a lane that is suitable for your driving speed; the left lanes are for faster traffic, while the right lanes are for slower traffic. However, the very left lane is for passing vehicles, while the very right lane is for entering and exiting the freeway. 

Compare Expressway and Freeway - What's the difference?

While driving, you should maintain a safe gap between the vehicles. This is mainly to avoid any hazards since you are driving at a fast speed; if you have enough distance between the vehicles, you have enough time to react. In addition, do not drive in other vehicles’ blind spots.

Difference Between Expressway and Freeway


An expressway is a divided highway with partial control of access, while a freeway is a divided, restricted access highway.


Expressways are traffic roads and give access to none, while freeways are service roads that give access to almost all the frontages.

Constructed for

Expressways are for high-speed vehicles with many facilities, while freeways are for fast vehicular traffic without many facilities.

Number of Lanes

An expressway has 2-8 lanes, while a freeway has 2-3 lanes.


Expressways connect high-speed roads that may be a part of a highway, whereas freeways connect two or more cities.


While expressways charge tolls, freeways do not.


An expressway is a divided highway with partial control of access. They are traffic roads for fast-speed vehicles and have 2-8 lanes. Meanwhile, a freeway is a divided, restricted-access highway. These are 2-3 lane service roads providing access to other establishments. Moreover, expressways charge tolls, while freeways do not. Therefore, the main difference between expressway and freeway is their control of access.


1. “Freeway driving.” The Official Ministry of Transportation (MTO) Driver’s Handbook. Government of Ontario.
2. “Expressway Road.” Encyclopedia of Britannica. Britannica Inc.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Purvanchal Expressway” By Twitter (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “The Freeway” (CC0) via Public Domain Pictures

About the Author: Gerandielle

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