A Look at the Culture That Moves Us

Behind the wheel with American truckers.


May 22, 2007 — -- It's easy to forget that America runs on trucks in this age of instant electronic communication. Yet everything we have, including the food, clothes and goods we buy online, has at one point traveled through the country in the back of an 18-wheeler.

"The only thing that's not delivered by trucks is babies," said Kim Reierson, the photographer behind the new book "Eighteen — A Look at the Culture That Moves Us."

A native of California, Reierson encountered both the trucker lifestyle and photography early in life. Her father drove an 18-wheeler for 17 years, and she only saw him sporadically as he drove around the nation. When she turned 15 her dad sparked her interest in photography by giving her a camera.

Eventually, Reierson decided to experience firsthand what her father's life on the road was like. She traveled through more than 20 different states in five years and shares what she discovered about trucker culture with the world through this book of photography.

"I'm interested in car culture in general, and around 2000… I found myself drawn to the truck stops," she told ABC News, while riding in the back of a big rig.

She soon began approaching drivers at truck stops asking to take photographs of them and their trucks.

"At first [the drivers] thought, 'Is she selling something? Is she a lot lizard?'… a trucker term for a truck stop hooker. But once I started talking to them with the cameras they really saw how genuinely interested I was [and] they were very welcoming and opening up their homes away from home and sharing their stories," Reierson said.

But she didn't embark on this new life as a trucker merely to satisfy her own curiosity.

"This isn't just for me. It affects everybody, the trucking industry," she said.

"Eighteen" features pictures of the four main parts of the life on the road: American landscapes, the various climates of the country, the truckers themselves and the ins and outs of the big rigs.

"A lot of people are not privy to that kind of information," Reierson said.

And how do the truckers feel about their somewhat secluded lives being shown to the masses in "Eighteen"?

"I think it's a great idea because there's not enough books to get America to know a whole lot about trucking," driver Larry Shelton of American Trucking said. "The main thing people don't understand is that these guys and gals that drive these trucks are normal people, just normal Americans trying to make a living to have the luxuries of life and to provide for their families and get good educations for their children."

In addition, Reierson's book reveals some big rig secrets. We've all seen empty trucks at pit stops and wondered where the drivers sleep. "Eighteen" shows us that trucks have comfortable living accommodations right in the cab, including beds and microwaves.

"They [the living accommodations] can get pretty luxurious, pretty dolled out," she said.

And how do the drivers really feel about kids motioning to them to blow their horn?

"It's a great tradition, and I think it's one that will always be with us," Shelton said. "It makes me feel good because it makes me remember the days when I did that and it made me respect the professional drivers."

Check out ABC News Now's "The Mix" for the full interview

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