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Here are a few tips you may not know that will help you become a better navigator. When you're traveling in unfamiliar territory, Interstate numbers give you valuable clues to your location and direction, if you know how to read them.

Here's the key:

One- or two-digit even- numbered Interstates are always east-west routes. The numbers increase from south (I-10) to north (I-94).

One- or two-digit odd-numbered Interstates are always north-south routes. Numbers increase from the West Coast (I-5) to the East Coast (I-95).

TIP: Since not all Interstates run due east-west or north-south, the closest cardinal direction that applies to most of the road is used. So, even if a stretch of an east-west Interstate shifts to the south for a while, it is still considered an east-west highway.

Three-Digit Interstates

Interstate highways with three-digit numbers connect to other major highways. If the first of the three digits is an even number, the highway usually connects to another Interstate at both ends - often in a circular "beltway" or loop.

If the first of the three digits is an odd number, the highway is usually a "spur" route that connects with an Interstate at only one end, sometimes going into a city center.

Counting Mile Markers

Have you noticed those small markers along the side of Interstate highways and some other roads? They are usually green or white and have the word MILE along with a number; some just have the number.

These "mile markers" show the number of miles from where the Interstate route entered the state in which you are traveling. The counting always begins at the state line in the south (for north-south routes) and in the west (for east-west routes). So, mile marker numbers always get larger as you travel east or north.

For example, if you enter North Carolina from South Carolina traveling on I-95, the mile markers will begin with "Mile 1" and get larger as you drive north through the state. When you cross the state line into Virginia, you will see "Mile 1" again.

TIP: When a major highway or Interstate originates inside a state, the numbering begins (south-to-north or west-to-east) from the junction where the road begins.

Knowing how to read mile markers can help you:

  • Know exactly where you are.
  • Determine how far it is to your destination.
  • Do your planning before a trip.
  • Give an exact location if you have to call for roadside assistance.
  • Interchanges and Mile Markers

Each state uses one of these systems for numbering its Interstate interchanges:

Some states link Interstate interchange numbers to mile markers, so that the number on the mile marker is the same as the number of the Interstate exit or interchange.

Exit 40 will be at or very close to Mile 40. This is a real aid to navigation and trip planning. For example, if your destination is Exit 50, you know it's only 10 miles away.

Some states number their Interstate interchanges consecutively, without linking them to mile markers. Exit 40 may be at Mile 140, and Exit 50 at Mile 240 - so don't make the mistake of thinking the next exits are only 10 miles apart.

Look at a map to figure out which system is being used. Also watch the exit and mile marker numbers to see if they match. But, remember:

If you enter a state from the south or west, the mile markers will begin with Mile 1. If you enter a state from the east or north, the first numbers you see will be large and they will get smaller as you travel.

There may be an Exit 1 immediately at Mile 1, but check the numbers further along the highway to see if they continue to match.

You may also see mile markers on roads off the Interstate system, but the markers and the numbering systems may be different from state to state - or even county to county. Watching these numbers will still be useful if you have to call for assistance.

Disclaimer: Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, SeaGhost Technologies Inc / MileSurfer.mobi / MileSurfer.com or its management or agents are not responsible for any information errors nor shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused, or alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly by the information contained herein.

Please note: Highway Mile Markers are approximate to the Exit Locations. MileSurfer.mobi software and data information subject to change without notice.

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