Why are large roads called highways?
Roads in the USA - Interstates, Highways & Co.
The United States has an extensive network of highways and federal highways. Basically, there are three types of roads to be distinguished. The Interstates, the Federal Highways, and the State or Provincial Highways.
Table of Contents
Interstates | Federal Highways | State or Provincial Highways | Toll roads (turnpikes / toll roads) | Orientation | Side routes worth seeing | Road condition reports | Search rental cars on comparison platforms | Road condition reports on 511 | Traveling on highways
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Interstates run across the country and are comparable to European highways. They are abbreviated with "I" (for Interstate Highway) and the number of the street, e.g. "I 75". The traffic signs with the street names are red and blue with white letters. The interstate highway system covers approximately 68,400 km nationwide and allows you to drive from coast to coast or from border to border without crossing or traffic lights. About 20% of motorized traffic occurs on the interstates, although the street lengths themselves are only about 1% of the total US road system. The safety on the interstates is statistically reported to be twice as high as that on other roads. 90% of the costs are borne by the federal government and 10% by the respective state. The interstates are usually the fastest connection, but not the most scenic.
Numbering of the highways
The Numbering of the highways is very systematic: The North South- Highways carry odd numbers, from I-5 along the Pacific coast to I-95 on the Atlantic coast. The East West- Highways have straight numbers, from I-8 and I-10 on the Mexican border to I-94 on the Canadian border. If the motorway number is three-digit, the first digit of the designation usually contains information on the direction. If the first digit is a 2, it means the direction in which the highway is going (e.g. Interstate 271 joins Highway 71). If the first digit is 4, the highway loops around a city and not directly into the center.
The Motorway exits (Exits) are numbered consecutively and are a good orientation: if you know the exit number, it is easy as a traveler to know when and where to leave. However: The exit numbers are assigned for each state. Since the motorways cross several states, there is Exit 1 e.g. several times (in principle once per motorway in each state). The system of consecutive numbering has not yet been standardized across the country. In general, the recommendation for the states applies to adapt the exit number to the mileage indication of the exit (mile-log numbering system).
In plain language, this means: an exit 5 is a departure after 5 miles on the motorway. On north-south motorways, the numbers (miles) are counted from south to north, on east-west motorways from west to east. The first exit of the I-75 in Georgia (Exit 2) is therefore near the Florida border, the first exit of the I-20 in Georgia (Exit 5) is near the Alabama border. All right? The advantage of the miles system for the traveler is in any case that you know where you are and how far you still have to drive without having to calculate. The disadvantage is, of course, that Exit 7 does not have to be followed by Exit 8. But to make things even clearer: not all countries use the mile system.
Exits are numbered consecutively
In individual states the exits are simply numbered consecutively, so here it starts at the border with Exit 1, followed by Exit 2, etc. But it is most beautiful when a federal state changes its previous system. This happened in Georgia in the months of January to July 2000 and in Florida in the months of January to July 2003: The previous system of consecutive numbering was converted to a miles system. Due to the change, the exit information on older maps in Georgia or Florida is almost always incorrect. The same applies to the descriptions of the hotel entrances in the hotel brochures. An overview of the old and new exit designations in Florida can be found under the keyword "Florida traffic rules".
The Information signs on the motorways are differentiated in color:
- Exit designations and references to them (exits)
- MileMarker (milestones, narrow and tall signs)
- Food exit
- Gas exit
- Lodge exit
- Camping exit
- Rest areas
- Welcome Center
Notes on ancillary systems
(In the first four pieces of information, the respective companies are usually named, i.e. Lodge-Exit e.g. Holiday Inn, Hyatt, etc.).
Driving instruction: The motorways can have 6 or more lanes in one direction. Overtaking in right-hand lanes is allowed in most states, and Americans love to change lanes without turning off the blinker. You should be prepared for this from the start. The right lane can quickly become the next exit ("This lane must exit" "Exit only"), you should therefore generally not drive all the way to the right in order not to be surprised. In individual cases the exits (Exits) also exit to the left of the motorway. If you miss an exit, you have to continue to the next one in order to return there after you have left. As with us, turning on the autobahn is strictly prohibited (no u-turns). For more information on driving on Interstate Highways, please refer to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which can be downloaded online: "Read Your Road: Every Highway User`s Guide to Driving Safely".
Federal highways are freeway-like expressways that run across the country regardless of state borders. However, unlike the interstates, they are not free of traffic lights and intersections and sometimes lead through cities and towns. They are abbreviated with "US" and the number of the street, e.g. "US 40". The road signs with the street names are white with a black frame and black lettering. The system of odd numbers for north-south streets and even numbers for east-west streets (see "Interstates" above) can also be found on most federal and state highways.
State or Provincial Highways
State or provincial highways are low-level roads that are marked with a circle on maps. The type of signposting determines the respective US state. The expansion and condition of the roads are very different. State highways often change names as they pass through towns. County Roads are roads in rural areas (a county is a part of the state). Ranch Roads and Farm Roads can also be more or less paved paths. So: the term "highway" is used for roads of all kinds and says little about the state of development of the same.
Toll roads (turnpikes / toll roads)
Some of the major highways, often called "turnpikes", are charges apply (as well as many bridges and tunnels with Great are occupied). At the beginning of the toll road, you may take a ticket from a machine (as in the parking garage), which is used to settle the charges at the next toll station; but often you can also go to the toll station (great station) "drive through". At the toll station, the "parking garage rule" applies: if you have enough change with you, you pay directly to machines that you can reach from the car with the window open (you throw the appropriate amount into a funnel, of course it's faster); if you don't, pay on Ticket booth with attendant. When approaching the toll station you have to queue up accordingly. So there are no particular problems lurking here for tourists, but you should not present bills that are too large and you should not have any cash at all.
It can happen that one hits several toll stations one after the other on a street and therefore has to pay several times (one often cannot "drive through" and pay at the end, but here too there are no rule without exception). In exceptional cases, the toll must also be paid in advance for shorter distances.
Place names are not given as a destination on road signs, but rather the number of the street and the direction in which the street runs (North, South, west, East). In other words: it is almost exclusively signposted according to street numbers and directions. Local destinations are rarely given (ie "I-20 West", not "Atlanta"); this applies to streets of all orders.
- You can hardly get lost if you consider the following questions:
- What are the numbers of the streets that lead to the destination?
- In which directions do these streets run?
Intersections with other streets are indicated by the designation "Jct. ……" (junction). Attention: Departures are mostly only through on the interstates one Announced beforehand, the exit itself follows immediately. Within localities, the larger intersecting cross streets are usually indicated by signs that are placed above the traffic lights at the intersection and are easy to read. A very good guide.
Most American cities have a simple and plausible one Road sign systemthat makes orientation much easier. In the north-south and east-west directions, one street each starts from the town center as central axes, which are identified by a name (e.g. Broadway and High street). Starting from the center (i.e. where the central axes intersect), all subsequent streets are numerically designated in one direction as streets and in the other direction as avenues. The 1stst Street follows the 2nd Street, this 3approx Street etc. and in the opposite direction this also applies to the avenues.
Also finding House numbers is quite simple with this system, as the house number itself already indicates the block in the first digit. The house number 475 describes a building that can be found between 4th and 5th street or avenue (400 to 499), house number 1575 a building between 15th and 16th street or avenue (1500 to 1599) .
Interesting branch lines
As in Europe, there are scenic and touristic routes of interest, often a bit off the main streets on interesting secondary routes, the so-calledScenic Byways"(say: ßiiinick by the way). It is not difficult to find these streets with their touristic opportunities when planning your trip, thanks to a special website on which everything you need to know about this complex of topics has been compiled. The page fhwa.dot.gov/byways/ lists all the secondary routes worth seeing and classifies them as follows:
- All-American Roads: The most beautiful secondary roads within the USA should already be worth a visit as such
- National Scenic Byways: Regionally significant branch lines
- Byways by State: Nice branch lines that have been designated as such within the states, but have not yet been classified as belonging to the two previous categories
The branch lines not only have to be in the open country, they can also be found within urban areas. The Las Vegas Strip is also counted among the Scenic Byways. The American concept of the worth seeing branch line is therefore very broad and includes everything worth seeing, not just landscape and culture. The homepage describes each individual branch route, has a short road map and names the highlights, sometimes with additional links to the sights along the route. Anyone who is halfway familiar with English will find a source of information here. There is also a free online map showing the Scenic Byways.
Road condition reports
The local television and radio stations regularly report on traffic obstructions and - especially important in winter - the condition and the closure of roads and passes; cf. in this context also under the sight words radio and television. Various websites on the Internet are also a good source of information, especially when it comes to travel preparation and information about previously known impairments due to road repairs or expected winter usage restrictions. The National Traffic and Road Closure Information website of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The websites of the Departments of Transportation (DOT) of the individual US states are even more informative. The State Transportation Web Sites provides an overview of the Internet addresses for the individual authorities of the states. Especially for California also offers the website quickmap.dot.ca.gov.
Search rental cars on comparison platforms
In our test of various comparison platforms, the provider billiger-mietwagen.de won. The site compares almost 150 providers from over 170 countries and also has a comprehensive range for the USA. The rental car in the USA can be found quickly by simply entering the location and the date including the time.
Road condition reports on 511
In July 2000, the number 511 was designated as the national number for travel information. Since then, more and more states have switched their traffic information to this central call. If you dial 5-1-1 on the phone or click on the associated website, you will receive current road condition reports, which can be queried according to various aspects (different from state to state), e.g. for the area Phoenix, Arizona, the following selections:
- press 1 roads Information on individual highways
- 2 transit information to metropolitan areas
- 3 airports Information on arrivals and departures at airports
- 4 Grand Canyon information on this area
- 5 quick reports Information on individual regions
Calls from landlines or cell phones are either free of charge (e.g. for Utah: 511 in Utah, 866-511-UTAH outside Utah) or at the local rate (e.g. for Arizona). The 511-Deployment website shows which states have switched to the central call 5-1-1. Other traffic information websites are traffic.com and accuweather.com.
Traveling on highways
The following sites are interesting Linsk for traveling on highways: American Bus Association, Coach USA, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Greyhound, International Motorcoach Group, Inc., National Highway Trafic Safety Administration (NHTSA), The United States Department of Homeland Security, Trailways, and the United Motorcoach Association.
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