Just where is the busiest freeway in North America?

While the United States may have the largest road network in the world, the title of the busiest freeway on the continent belongs to their neighbors up north in Canada with its Ontario Highway 401.

Known as King’s Highway 401, the freeway also goes by its official name of the Macdonald–Cartier Freeway. A 400-Series Highway in the Canadian province of Ontario, the 401 stretches from Windsor to the Quebec border. The segment of Highway 401 passing through Toronto is not only the busiest highway in North America but also one of the widest and busiest in the world.

So, what makes this freeway so busy? According to a report from the Federal Highway Administration, the annual average daily traffic (AADT) count between Weston Road and Highway 400 in Toronto was estimated at 431,900. On some days, the number exceeds 500,000 vehicles.

Those stats make the 401 the the busiest roadway in North America, surpassing those in the U.S., including the Santa Monica Freeway in Los Angeles, Interstate 10 (I-10) in Houston, and I-75 in Atlanta.

Have you driven on Ontario Highway 401? What was your experience like? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

Image: Danielle Scott, PLTam

  1. The 401 is a superhighway built to handle the large volume of car and truck traffic through the GTA.
    The problem is the interchange sections onto the other 400 series routes and the ramps on and off the 401 in certain areas.
    I honestly don’t think anyone knows how to plan their daily commute or enter/exit a hwy.
    People who are not comfortable driving in high volume or at high speeds should stay the hell off of it.
    Maybe the OPP should start handing out tickets for incompetent drivers doing 80km/hr in an express lane or trying to merge onto the hwy doing 40km/hr. I for one will never understand traffic jams with the exception of a major accident that closes all but one lane.
    There are no traffic lights or stop signs so it boils down to idiots who are out on a Sunday drive on a Monday morning during rush hour and the ones who like to ride their brake peddle and the ones who panic at the sight of red lights.
    As for the people comparing Toronto to the states … please.
    Been there .. how many Americans travel and average of 50 miles one way just to get to work.

  2. It’s the only place I’ve driven in the world where driving 120kph in the left-most lane is considered slow, even when you are correctly using the lane to pass vehicles. For the reasons you identified, people in the GTA are always impatient, perhaps justifiably so.

  3. He meant size geographically nyc is 789 km² where the greater toronto area is over 6000km²…

  4. dammit john why u gotta be such a hater man

  5. I see that these comments are 2 or more years old. Well folks, things have not changed. It is still one of the busiest, fast moving super highways in the world. Most of us live outside the downtown Toronto core and commute in. We are not impatient but have no tolerance for stupidity and timidness. Pull up your pants and hang on it’s going to be bumpy and fast until some moron or construction brings it to a screaming halt.

  6. do you really think the goverment wants to free up traffic? Not at all, the 407 went exactly as planned as they want the traffic, it means more fuel consumption and the few who choose to pay for the 407 get to enjoy it, but nothing is done without specific reason and this is one of those things if you think about it.

  7. more fuel means more spending, more money in someone elses hand. Its all part of the fast paced economic world we have created for ourselves.

  8. We did the 401 crawl a couple of days ago for 5 hrs. All I can say it
    was gruesome.

  9. If I may jump into the fray:
    I live in London, and commute twice-weekly to Tyndale University College to study a course on the
    literature of C.S. Lewis & J.R.R. Tolkien.
    My class starts at 9:45 AM.
    I have to exit the 401 at the Campbellville interchange to avoid the Milton-area gridlock.
    Then I take the Campbellville Side Road past Milton until the 401 merges with the 407.
    I pay a premium toll rate to drive on the 407 eastbound as far as the Bayview Avenue exit.
    Yeah, it costs money, but tell you what:
    I would never arrive on time at Tyndale otherwise.
    Here is a chart of the 407 toll rates.
    As you can see, if you can manage to drive the 407 during offpeak hours, the per-kilometer rate is substantially reduced.
    PhiL >^•_•^<


  10. I work afternoons, with plenty overtime well into the early morning, at 3am, this mega-highway becomes strangely like a ghost town, for that one hour in the night, you can count about 10 cars in your 1km vicinity on both sides up or down the highway. Other than 3am, this highway’s traffic is absolutely ridiculous. Also keep in mind Toronto, the city I call home, is North America’s 4th most populated city, after Mexico City, NYC, and LA.

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