DALLAS — CloudTrucks recently polled 2,000 U.S. adults via third-party survey platform Pollfish for the 2023 How America Talks Trucks Survey.
According to CloudTrucks officials, the goal was to explore regional differences in terminology and perspectives on the trucking industry.
In their survey, “How America Thinks and Talks Trucks,” CloudTrucks asked 2,000 Americans about the terminology they use and perceptions they have on trucking and trucker drivers.
Respondents from all 50 states were included and analyzed by census region: Northeast, Midwest, South and West.
- Americans value and hold largely positive views of truck drivers.
- Americans across all regions are familiar with the trucking industry, and Southerners are confident they understand trucking and truck drivers best.
- Regional terminology for trucks differs, but “18-wheeler” is the most popular term for trucks nationwide.
Americans value and hold largely positive views of truck drivers
Across regions, Americans overwhelmingly say “truck drivers play a crucial role in the economy” (80%) and sympathize with truckers for “frequently” having to “encounter aggressive or unsafe behaviors from other motorists” (43%). Nearly a third (33%) said truck drivers are not adequately compensated for their work.
When asked about the images that come to mind when thinking of truck drivers, some limiting perceptions persisted. About 21% of respondents suggested drivers are older white males with tattoos and rough appearances, and 13% suggested they are reckless and disregard traffic rules and safety precautions.
However, most respondents across the U.S. regions opted for far more positive descriptions of truck drivers. Many respondents (35%) described drivers as industrious, overworked and underpaid. Approximately 32% of respondents also described drivers as reliable and punctual.
When asked what they would think if they met a truck driver in a social setting, almost half (48%) of respondents said they would have respect for the driver’s hard work, sacrifices and contributions to society. Many (46%) also indicated they would have an interest in learning more about the drivers’ travels and experiences in the trucking industry. Far fewer respondents made negative assumptions about truck drivers’ politics, education or other traits.
Americans are familiar with the trucking industry, and Southerners are most confident they understand trucking and trucker drivers
Southerners showed a high degree of confidence in their understanding of the daily life and challenges faced by truck drivers, with 69% claiming to be “very familiar” (29%) or “somewhat familiar” (40%), compared to 57% of Northeasterners who answered “very familiar” (19%) or “somewhat familiar” (37%).
Across the U.S., 65% of respondents said they were “very familiar” (26%) or “somewhat familiar” (39%) with the daily life and challenges faced by truck drivers.
Notably, Northeasterners appear to know trucking quite well. Participants from the region did the best on the quiz. They were most likely to correctly respond that New York has the toughest trucking regulations. They were also more likely than Southerners to identify Texas as the state with the highest concentration of trucking companies and Ohio as a major trucking hub.
Regional terminology differs, but “18-wheeler” is the most popular name for trucks nationwide
When asked “What term do you commonly use to refer to a large truck used for shipping goods?” each part of the country identified a different, preferred term.
Midwesterners prefer the terms “semi” and “semi-truck”, which received 28% and 27% of their responses, respectively. About 11% answered “18-wheeler” in this region.
People in the Northeast favor “tractor-trailer” (30%) over the second most popular term, “18-wheeler”(16%).
In the West, people seem to prefer the term “semi-truck” (19%), followed by “semi” and “18-wheeler” at 17%. “Big rig” and “rig” are popular in the West as well – those terms received a combined 17% of responses.
Broken down by state, 13 states chose “18-wheeler,” 13 favored “semi,” 13 (including the District of Columbia) chose “tractor-trailer,” and 12 picked “semi-truck.”
“Other” popular names provided by respondents included “delivery truck”, “freight truck” and “mack truck”.
Tobenna Arodiogbu, co-founder and CEO, CloudTrucks, said the results were encouraging for the trucking industry.
“It’s great to see that so many people value and feel positively about truck drivers and the work they do,” said Tobenna Arodiogbu, co-founder and CEO, CloudTrucks. “Most freight in the U.S. is moved by trucks so drivers and the trucking industry as a whole are absolutely essential to our daily existence. Perhaps positive perceptions will continue to grow as consumer activities like e-commerce become more popular and the general public interacts more with the trucking industry via experiences like package tracking. We have to keep working to ensure this value translates monetarily to drivers.”
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.