Highways are the main public roads that connect different cities, towns and at times, villages etc. together. It is a major and significant public road that is able and fit to carry fairly heavy traffic. Since automobile has gained popularity in the world today, the need for adequate and efficient transport system for promoting economic development is a notable fact that cannot be underemphasized. Substantial investments on road infrastructural development by government at different levels e.g. Federal, State and local government are also frantic efforts to attract investors which will in turn promote the economy.
For instance, in China virtually all regions either rural or urban are linked by highways with Beijing and Shanghai . This helps China to increase economic activities in all regions.
Highways have great benefits to industries, educational institutions, tourist centres, hospitals, to mention but few. It plays an indispensable role in the economy of both the developed and the developing countries of the world in making travels easier and faster. Hence, any problem that may affect smooth transport operations on highways may have great negative impacts on the economy of a nation at large. This and many other reasons explain why highways are important to a nation. However, below are the benefits of highways:
- Good transport infrastructure, like highway network, enhances transport system that reduces transportation costs and this, in turn, definitely reduces production costs while increasing the productivity and profitability of organizations.
- Highway networks also make transportation schedules and deliveries more reliable and timely.
- Highways also contribute immensely to social growth, relatives are able to visit their loved ones more often and it enhances good relationship between family and friends.
- Highways can relatively reduce travel time to villages, cities and towns thereby encouraging people to travel for business and trade.
- Highways make journeys faster, comfortable and safer than usual while at the same time reducing fuel consumption.
- Highways allow regions or different communities that are linked to the highway to gain comparative advantage.
- It is highly durable: Oftentimes highways are well constructed, they stay strong and in good condition over a long period of time.
- It helps to reduce accident rate. The life of any individual road user is important. Good roads help to reduce rate of accident that may come as a result of bad roads. For instance, highway constructed to link Tibet one of the provinces in China was said to have reduced accident rate in the area by 40%.
- It reduces the cost of vehicle maintenance, when you compare it to vehicles subject to extraordinary rough physical treatment under poor road condition.
- Highways increase the life-span of a vehicle: Under poor road condition tires, brakes, clutches and other vehicle parts suffer when moving on a bad road. But when the roads are good the vehicle’s parts function well over a good period of time
- Highways support development: Use of highways will affect virtually every economic activity of the environment. Hence, every rural community that is separated from others due to lack of motorable road will be economically challenged. For instance, highway construction that links Tibet Province in China plays an important role in Tibet’s development.
- Highway makes life better in various ways: such as reducing travel time for: Residents; workers; students; accessing health services; tourist centers and market places. It also reduce cost of travel by motorcycles and vehicles as well as reducing the transportation cost for industries thereby reducing production cost, while increasing passenger services and more importantly reducing traffic accidents. Indeed, highway brings significant improvements for man in many ways.
Having considered the above benefits of Highway construction, it is important that highway construction project should not be politicized. Political strategies that discriminate against highway in rural communities mostly in developing countries must be checked. Adequate fund provision for the project must not be undermined. Corruption in the part of government officials in awarding road projects must also be checked. The designs, construction and regulations of the highways and the vehicles used on them and the training of drivers and other road users may go a long way in making our highways safer for all of us.