Road Maps

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How To Read Road Maps

Road maps are pretty easy to read, but amazingly, some people still have trouble making sense of them. For starters, you need to understand which direction is north on the road map and which direction you are traveling in your vehicle. Because most roads are situated either north/south or east/west, you may be relieved to know you are travelling on the right road you need to be on to reach your destination but discover later that you were travelling the wrong direction on that road!

Secondy, you need to know the difference between major highways, thoroughfares and streets. Usually, they are color coded on the road map and indicate the capacity of the roadway. This is important when calculating your route because while you may be able to reach your destination in multiple ways, usually the way which incorporates the longest stretch on a major freeway will be quickest. During rush hour, however, this may be reversed.

Reading a road map is different than following a navigation system. Most electronic navigation systems give you turn-by-turn directions. This mode is usually the most efficient way to navigate but if there are any closed roads or outdated information, you might need to switch to the road map mode. In this mode, it's much more like reading a paper road map. You do have the advantage of the navigation system orienting the map in the direction you are travelling, but it's important to be able to use both methods to be able to successfully reach your destination.