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Many semi-trucks on the road are hauling goods a long way. So it’s unsurprising to see some of these big rigs with out-of-state plates. But have you noticed just how many semi-trucks have Pennsylvania license plates? You’re not imagining things: Pennsylvania has more registered trucks, and more licensed truck drivers, than almost every state in the country. The reasons why may come down to Pennsylvania’s strategic location and a couple of surprising industries that call the “Keystone State” home.

Millions of semi-trucks call Pennsylvania home

A row of semi-trucks merging on a highway interchange, mixed with regular traffic.
Semi-trucks on I-70 in Pennsylvania | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Image

No, you’re not seeing things, a surprising amount of semi-trucks on the highway have Pennsylvania license plates. Truckers News shared that the three states with the most registered semi-trucks are California, Texas, and Florida. Considering the size of each of these states, this fact may not surprise you.

But here’s a more surprising statistic: Pennsylvania comes in fourth. There are currently 5,469,688 semi-trucks registered in Pennsylvania.

Obviously, someone has to drive all of these semi-trucks. Pennsylvania is no slouch there either. According to FCC Inc. The states with the most and second-most truck drivers are the usual suspects: Texas and California. But with just a smidge under 80,000 truck drivers, Pennsylvania claims a decisive third place. That means that Pennsylvania is home to more truck drivers than the next 47 states! Truck driving accounts for 13 out of every 1,000 jobs in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is the “Keystone” of the country

A blue "Welcome to Pennsylvania Sign" with a tree-lined two-lane road visible in the background.
Welcome to Pennsylvania sign | Edwin Remsburg/VW Pics via Getty Images

Quick history lesson: When Europeans settled the original 13 colonies, stone arches were important aspects of constructing everything from bridges to large buildings. To assemble these arches, masons would build two curved columns of large stones toward one another. Then at the top, they would lay a triangular “keystone” into place. Both sides of the arch would push against this central keystone and it would hold the entire structure together.

When you look at a map, it’s not a mystery why our Founding Fathers called Pennsylvania the “Keystone State.” It is at the center of the original colonies, dividing New England and the mid-Atlantic. Its location is important for more reasons than its centrality: Pennsylvania stretches from the important port at Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, the northern capital of the Appalachian Mountains.

Today, Pennsylvania boasts 250,000 lane miles of roads. This includes 2,000 miles of interstate highways. I-70, I-80, and I-90 all pass through Pennsylvania. Much of the semi-truck traffic entering New England must pass through Pennsylvania. Much of the truck traffic going west from New York City also passes through Pennsylvania. It is very much a hub of trucking in the U.S.A.

You might be surprised what semi-trucks from Pennsylvania are carrying

A semi-truck with Pennsylvania plates parked in front of a barn and silo.
Semi-truck | Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Trucker compiled a list of the products you are most likely to find aboard semi-trucks registered in Pennsylvania. This includes trucks transporting goods in-state and out-of-state.

Products for the energy industry are far and away the most common: Coal took the number one spot, propane is in third place, and palladium (used in fuel cells, among other things) earned eighth.

The pharmaceutical industry is hot on the energy industry’s heels. Immunological goods, vaccines, and “miscellaneous medications” all earned their own spots on the list.

Finally, aircraft (both complete and parts), helicopters, motorcycles, and cell phones made the list. See how they stack up below:

  1. Coal
  2. Miscellaneous medications
  3. Propane
  4. Vaccines
  5. Immunological goods
  6. Aircrafts and aircraft parts
  7. Motorcycles
  8. Palladium
  9. Helicopters
  10. Cell phones

Next, find out if the spikes on semi-truck wheels are actually legal or learn more about the trucking industry in the CNBC video below: