If you're one to call truck drivers "truckies" and imagine them with chest hair sprouting out of their singlets, then set aside the notion.

Most Kiwi truck drivers prefer to be known as "professional drivers", The Road Transport Association of New Zealand says.

Association chief executive Dennis Robertson says while the media often calls drivers "truckies" now the phrase has even crept into official reports. However drivers and trucking executives seldom use the word themselves.

"Truckie may sound matey or blokey, but 'professional driver' reflects the serious responsibility of the job," Robertson said.


"These professional drivers have to undergo extensive training and acquire highly developed skills, which need to be rigorously maintained."

But worse still, "truckie" appears to be an imported "Aussie-ism", along with words, such as tradies, posties, sparkies, and "firies", Robertson said.

He believed the term truckie was harmful to the industry at a time when it was attempting to attract more drivers.

"New Zealand is currently experiencing a nationwide shortage of professional drivers, which could have a long-term impact on the economy," he said.

Recognising professionalism was important to make driving jobs more attractive, he said.

However, logging driver Bridget Scott says she likes being called a truckie rather than a professional driver.

She said professional driver didn't accurately reflect her job because it could also include bus and taxi drivers and couriers.

"If we need a title - I don't think we do - it should be something along the lines of profesional heavy transport operator," she said.


Having had 18 years experience, she said she took extra pride in her skill at being able to handle the difficult roads that logging trucks often travelled on.

Coryn Spiers, a Kiwi working in Australia, also has no problem with being called a truckie.

"Yup, I'm a truckie. I don't care."

"Life is too short to worry about things like this."

Dave Clark, a member of the Australian and New Zealand Truck Driver Facebook page, is also unfussed.

"I have no drama being called a truckie at all, obviously most of us are professional drivers and it's a term we're also comfortable with," he said.

"My problem is that we're not paid accordingly to match our experience and professionalism."

"I also think, as has been suggested many times in the past, that our profession needs to be recognised as a trade."

Hawke's Bay-based RTANZ executive Sandy Walker has 47 years' experience in the industry, however, and takes every chance to encourage drivers to give themselves the recognition they deserve.

"I do many logbook refresher courses throughout the areas I work in, and at each workshop I encourage attendees to think about what they write," he said.

"I insist they refrain from writing truck driver and enter professional driver because that is what they are."