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Type of Road / Classification of Road – 6 Interesting Points

type of road

Table of Contents


American Freeways

Smart Motorways

Regional Roads

Local Roads 

Urban Streets

We use the road to travel from point A to point B, but do you know what the classification of road or type of road is? Please read this blog for details.

So, what is a Road?

A road is a highway or street or boulevard, or parkway, available to the public for usage for travel or transportation.

Here I am covering the modern and practical classification of Roads, that we see across the globe:


Autobahn is an access-controlled motorway in Germany. Autobahns are widely known as “no speed limit” highways, although there is an advisory posted speed limit of 130Kph but driving over and above the posted speed is not prohibited along the Autobahn. Isn’t an exciting piece of information?

But constructing and maintaining such high-speed motorways is not an easy task. The German government and the German automobile industry are well known to produce top-notch products and Autobahn is one of them. Obviously, German cars are top-notch too, so I leave it to you to decide which one will come first. But for me, it's Autobahn for sure.

American Freeways

American Freeways are normally known as the Interstate Highway System. Freeway is a grid of access-controlled highways that forms part of the National Highway System in the United States. Most freeways have a minimum of two lanes in each direction. However, in urban centres, there may be up to eight lanes including right-turn and left-turn pockets.

These freeways generally come with very wide central reservations (central median). Along the freeways, stopping or waiting are prohibited but hard shoulders can be used in case of an emergency. Wayside amenities are provided at frequent intervals for road users to take a break. In some freeways, you will also find Pool Lanes.

Pool lanes are kept for high occupancy vehicles during peak hours. Freeways generally come with ‘exit only’ lanes, where all traffic on the inside lane must leave the freeway they are often unmarked, and you may find yourself leaving the freeway without noticing it so better be careful.

Smart Motorways

The nodal agency of the UK government “Highway England” has rolled out the motorway improvement programme by converting existing motorways to Smart Motorways. A smart motorway is a motorway that uses the latest traffic management and operation techniques to increase the motorway capacity and reduce congestion, particularly during peak hours.

The key features of a smart motorway are converting the hard shoulder to a running lane, converting the wide central median narrow concrete central median and controlling the speed limits of all lanes by using real-time variable speed limit signs. The key benefit of the smart motorway is that the whole conversion stays within Highway England’s “Right of Way” means within the motorway land boundary.

So statutory procedure is much simpler than creating an entirely new motorway. Now you may have a question if the hard shoulder is changed to a running lane, where the vehicle will stop in case of an emergency. So, don’t worry, it has been taken care of too. In case of emergency, an ERA (Emergency Refuge Area) is introduced at a very frequent interval.

These ERAs are painted a very prominent orange colour and come with SOS facilities. Advance information signs are placed to inform drivers that an ERA is 100m away or 200m away or 500m away so that the drivers can plan to stop there in case of an emergency.

The smart motorways are almost 200% captured by the advanced CCTV cameras so the control centre gets information within a few seconds and acts accordingly if there is any accident or an emergency. VMS signs are activated and “Red X” signs are activated for a few kilometres to stop the vehicles using a lane.

This advanced technology helps to control the queuing of the vehicles at one place and this speed reduction helps to maintain vehicles running at a slow pace instead of becoming standstill and waiting. Apart from the above high-speed roads, there are 3 key secondary or low-speed roads that play a very important role in connecting places and making connectivity fluid.

highway engineering course

Regional Roads

Regional roads connect cities to cities or even state to state sometimes. However, these roads are generally not designed as “access-controlled” roads. That’s why these roads pass through the small towns, and, on many occasions, it provides direct access to side roads via T-junction or T-junction with ghost island.

Due to the presence of many direct accesses, the posted speed of regional roads always stays on the lower side. Also, when the regional road passes through a town, it's recommended to provide traffic calming measures to further reduce the recommended speed.

Although most the drivers prefer high-speed motorways or freeways if travelling for long distances but sometimes regional roads are much more pleasant to drive because the landscape and flavour change quite frequently on regional roads whereas on motorways, the visuals don’t change that frequently and sometimes create a monotonous visual to the drivers and this would also lead to reducing the alertness of the driver and may trigger momentary fatigue.

Local Roads 

Local roads primarily connect the urban pockets of a town. It generally caters to the local movement of people living in that town, however, local markets or shopping centres do generate some movement of good vehicles. Local roads also cater to major pedestrian and cyclist movements, so footway and cycle tracks or cycle lanes play a very important role in the safe movement of pedestrians and cyclists.

On-street parking (paid or unpaid) is also provided on these roads to cater to the local parking demands. Most of the local roads are designed to provide 30 to 40 kph posted speed. At the central median, Road Restraint System (RRS)is not preferred on local roads but is not prohibited either.

Roundabout or signal-controlled or uncontrolled junctions are the preferred option for junction operation. Grade-separated junction is not the preferred option on local roads.

blog-road restraint system

Urban Streets

Urban streets are generally provided around the urban centres where pedestrian movements are very prominent and vehicular movements are discouraged. Many cities in European countries are designed to discourage vehicular movement in urban centres. In some big cities, congestion charging is also introduced to discourage vehicular traffic.

Traffic calming measures, block paving, rumble strips, demountable bollards, etc are some key preferred measures along the urban streets.  

Hope this blog gives you a different perspective on road classification that we see across the globe.

Please share your views.


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