Freeways, Expressways, and Interstates

The ancestor of the modern-day interstate system was a system of highways stretching east to west and north to south. This system is still in place; however, by mid-twentieth century, the interstate system began to replace it and was even built over top of some roads and through some existing communities. As the country expanded, the need to transport people, goods, and services far and wide became necessary. Beginning in the 1950s, the modern freeway system was born, and it revolutionized movement in the United States. Today, this system extends as far north as Canada and south through Mexico, passing through many different states. The economic lifeblood of many communities depends on the flow of traffic and visitors from all across the country.

Even though you can generally rely on a lot of similarity and uniformity in traffic laws between the various states, each state can and does enact its own unique traffic laws.  These laws may vary widely as far as whether you can use hands-free electronic devices, have on a seatbelt, carry certain items of cargo, or make a U-turn. When traveling on the interstate system, it is a good idea to make a travel plan, and review the major laws of states where you intend to travel.

Freeways are wide roads used for fast-moving vehicles traveling longer distances at higher speeds and with rushed time-schedules. These roadways generally have four lanes, two lanes traveling in each direction to create a free flow of traffic. These roads are not interrupted by traffic signals, railroad crossings, or other hindrances. They are accessible only through ramps. In other words, you cannot drive directly from your home to an access road and onto a freeway in most cases. Pedestrians and bicyclists are not allowed on freeways. A maximum speed is often posted (and sometimes a minimum one, too), ranging between 45 m.p.h. and 75 m.p.h. (miles per hour). Therefore, freeways are sometimes called “access-controlled” highways.

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