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TLDR: Highways are public roads that are used for major transportation. They can be found in many countries and are often named and numbered by the government. Highways are important for connecting cities and facilitating trade and travel. They can also have social, economic, and environmental effects.

A highway is a public road or other public way on land that is used for major transportation. It can be a major road, a controlled-access highway, or even a translation for terms like "Autobahn" or "autoroute." In the United States, the term "highway" is often used as an equivalent term for a controlled-access highway. The use of the term "highway" dates back to before the 12th century and the word "high" refers to the main nature of these roads.

In different countries, highways may have different classifications. In North American and Australian English, major roads like controlled-access highways or arterial roads are often called state highways or provincial highways. In the United States, there are also county highways. In British English, "highway" is primarily a legal term that covers any route or path with a public right of access.

Highways are important for connecting cities and facilitating trade and travel. They can be named and numbered by the government and can span multiple countries, like the Pan-American Highway or the European routes. Some highways, like US Route 10, even have ferry services. Highways have evolved over time to accommodate different modes of transportation, from people on foot or horses to carriages, bicycles, and motor cars.

Modern highways are designed to enhance capacity, efficiency, and safety. They often have limited access points, multiple lanes, and grade-separated junctions with other roads and modes of transport. These features are typically present on highways built as motorways or freeways. Highways have had a significant impact on society, both positive and negative. They have reduced travel times and provided trade routes, but they have also caused displacement of communities and increased pollution.

Highways can have economic effects by improving transportation and trade. They can also have environmental effects, such as noise and air pollution, habitat fragmentation, and increased congestion. Highways can also impact road traffic safety, and measures are taken to reduce the harm caused by traffic collisions.

In some countries, highways may include bus lanes to improve traffic flow and encourage carpooling and mass transit. These lanes are dedicated to buses and can be found in countries like Australia, India, Canada, South Korea, and Hong Kong.

Overall, highways play a crucial role in transportation and connectivity, but they also have social, economic, and environmental implications that need to be considered.

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