Many road authorities, including those in South Africa, are unable to reliably identify and prioritise the maintenance of two essential road categories: roads that are required to satisfy citizens’ constitutional right to access basic services; and roads that maximise potential economic growth. This issue stems from reliance on the current set of classification systems, which lack the requisite detail to determine a road’s significance in connecting communities to basic service facilities, the volume and type of economic activity it supports, and overlaps between these functions. This paper therefore presents an economics-based road classification system customised for the South African road network. The new system disaggregates roads into four classes: Basic Access Roads; Strategic Roads; Tactical Roads; and Surplus Roads. The characteristics and maintenance priority level of each road class are addressed, along with an identification methodology that authorities can use to include this information within their asset management systems to improve expenditure and investment outcomes.