On highways, Differences between Korea and the US you need to know

Driving on highways can be an exhilarating experience, offering freedom and convenience to travel long distances efficiently. However, the experience can differ greatly between countries due to variations in road infrastructure, driving rules and regulations, signage and navigation, driver behavior, and rest areas. In this article, we will explore the differences between Korea and the US when driving on highways, shedding light on unique aspects that make each country’s highway system distinct.

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Road infrastructure on highways

One noticeable difference between Korea and the US when driving on highways is the size and capacity of the roads. In the US, highways are often wider and have multiple lanes, allowing for a higher volume of traffic. On the other hand, Korean highways tend to be narrower, especially in rural areas, and may have fewer lanes. This variation can impact driving dynamics and traffic flow.

Additionally, in Korea, there is a prevalence of toll roads. These roads require drivers to pay a fee at designated toll boothss to access certain sections of the highway. In contrast, toll roads are less common in the US, with many highways being toll-free. This dissimilarity can affect the cost of long-distance travel and route selection.

Driving rules and regulations

When it comes to driving rules and regulations, there are several notable distinctions between Korea and the US. One significant difference is the speed limits. In Korea, the speed limits are generally lower compared to the US. This is due to the denser population and smaller size of the country, necessitating a more cautious approach to ensure safety on the roads.

Lane discipline is another area where the two countries differ. In the US, drivers tend to adhere strictly to lane discipline, staying in their designated lanes and using the left lane primarily for passing. In Korea, lane discipline can be more relaxed, with frequent lane changes and drivers occupying multiple lanes simultaneously. This variance can impact the flow of traffic and requires drivers to adapt their driving style accordingly.

Moreover, right of way rules may vary between the two countries. In the US, the general rule is that vehicles on the right have the right of way, while in Korea, there may be more emphasis on yielding to larger vehicles or those merging onto the highway. Understanding and adhering to these right of way rules are essential for safe and efficient driving.

Signage and navigation

Clear signage and navigation are crucial for a smooth driving experience on highways. Language plays a significant role in this aspect. In the US, signs are primarily in English, making it easier for English-speaking drivers to navigate the highways. However, in Korea, signs are predominantly in Korean, which can pose challenges for foreign drivers who are not familiar with the language. It is important for international drivers to familiarize themselves with common Korean traffic signs or rely on navigation devices for assistance.

Additionally, the level of detail and clarity in signage can differ between the two countries. In the US, highway signs are typically well-designed, providing clear directions, exit numbers, and distance information. Korean signs may be equally informative

, but the language barrier can make it more challenging for non-Korean speakers to interpret the information effectively.

Driver behavior and etiquette

Driver behavior on highways can greatly impact the overall driving experience. In the US, drivers generally exhibit a more relaxed and courteous attitude on highways, adhering to traffic rules and maintaining a reasonable distance from other vehicles. However, in Korea, the driving culture can be more assertive and aggressive, with a higher tendency for tailgating and abrupt lane changes. This difference in driver behavior requires extra caution and adaptability when driving on Korean highways.

Another notable distinction is the usage of car horns. In the US, honking is typically reserved for urgent situations or to warn of imminent danger. In Korea, however, drivers often use the horn as a means of communication, such as indicating their presence or expressing frustration. This variance in horn usage can create a stark contrast in the auditory environment on highways between the two countries.

Rest areas and amenities

Rest areas play an essential role in providing comfort and convenience during long-distance journeys. In the US, rest areas are plentiful along highways, offering amenities such as restrooms, picnic areas, and sometimes even playgrounds or pet exercise areas. These facilities provide opportunities for drivers and passengers to take a break, stretch their legs, and refresh themselves before continuing their journey.

In Korea, rest areas, known as “service areas” or “rest stops,” are also available along highways. However, they are typically less frequent compared to the US. Despite the lower frequency, Korean rest areas often provide various services such as food courts, convenience stores, and fuel stations. These areas serve as pit stops for drivers to refuel, grab a bite to eat, and rest before resuming their travels.


In conclusion, driving on highways in Korea and the US presents distinct experiences due to variations in road infrastructure, driving rules and regulations, signage and navigation, driver behavior, and rest areas. Understanding these differences is essential for travelers and international drivers to adapt to the unique driving environment of each country. Whether it’s the size of the roads, speed limits, driving etiquette, or availability of rest areas, being aware of these dissimilarities can enhance safety and make the journey more enjoyable.


  1. Are there any toll roads in the US?
    Yes, there are toll roads in the US, but they are generally less common compared to Korea.
  2. Can I rent a car and drive in Korea as a foreigner?
    Yes, foreign visitors can rent a car and drive in Korea, but it is important to have an International Driving Permit and be familiar with Korean traffic rules.
  3. What languages are highway signs in the US?
    Highway signs in the US are primarily in English.
  4. Is it safe to drive on Korean highways?
    Yes, it is safe to drive on Korean highways, but it is important to be cautious and adapt to the driving culture and rules of the country.
  5. Are there rest areas on Korean highways?
    Yes, there are rest areas on Korean highways called “service areas” or “rest stops,” but they are generally less frequent compared to the US.

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