Road designation or abbreviation

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Tunisian A4 motorway with road sign reading  A4  road designation

A road designation or a road name abbreviation are easy ways to refer to a road.

The road designation can be created from the original road name or made accordingly to the road type and number. Roads designations are used especially to have a non-ambiguous system of labelling roads on maps or on road signs.


Use of letters

The use of letters allow to create a distinct designation from the road name or the road number. The way this letter is attached to its roadnumber is dependant on the country where the road lies in. For instance, among A1 motorways, the one in Spain has a minus sign between the A and the 1 (Autovia A-1) while in Germany the Autobahn 1 is written A 1, with a space between the A and the 1. In Argentina there is a number of zeros between the A and the 1 (Autopista A001).

Single-letter shortenings

Multiple-letter shortenings

Road systems

Depending on the country, the letter attributed to a road may be part of a road grading system, be a shortening for a type of road especially in a foreign language or refer to a geographical zoning system, such as the Appalachian Development Highway System or the county highway systems of California, Iowa, and Michigan in the United States.

Existing road systems

International systems

National systems

Australian M, A, B, C, D system

M is for primary roads, A for single carriageway interstates, B for secondary highways, C for roads linking small settlements and D for unsealed roads linking very small remote towns.

British M, A, B, C, D, U system

M stands for "motorway" while A, B, C, D are grades of roads, and U means "unclassified".

Cyprus A, B, E, F system

A stands for motorway and B is for main roads. E and F are for smaller local roads.

French A, N, D system

A stands for "autoroute" (motorway), N for "national road", D for "départementale" road and C for "communale".

German A, B system

A stands for "Autobahn" (motorway), B for "Bundesstrasse" (federal road).

Jamaica A, B system

Senegal N, R system

N stands for "national" roads while R is for "regional" roads.

Slovak D, R system

D stands for "diaľnica" (motorways) while R is for "rýchlostná cesta" (expressways).

South African N, R, M system

N stands for national road, R stands for regional road and M stands for metropolitan road.

Vietnamese QL, TL, HL system

QL stands for quốc lộ (national road); TL and ĐT stand for tỉnh lộ and đường tỉnh (provincial road); HL stands for hương lộ (rural district road); and ĐCK stands for đường cặp kênh (canal towpath).

See also