I have often noticed that it seems like the general public doesn't really understand the difference between state and US highways. I notice this especially in the local media, where US highways are sometimes referred to as being state highways and occasionally(though less often) vice versa. This has been especially noticeable recently as in Nebraska we have had some road closures due to flooding. Just in the last few days I have seen US 159, US 20 and US 275 incorrectly referred to in the local media as "Nebraska 159", "Nebraska 20" and "Nebraska 275". Yet in the same listings, they also correctly refer to "US 81". Also, it seems to be very common here and elsewhere for people to refer to most state or US highways by the generic term "Highway XX"(or "Route XX" in some other places) without making the distinction between whether it is a state or US highway. The general public does seem to understand the difference between Interstates and other routes as they are almost always identified as "Interstate XX" or "I-XX".
I guess maybe this makes some sense as Interstates are noticeably different(other than the shield, of course) in most cases from state or US routes because they are always(with a few small exceptions) completely access-controlled freeways, while most state or US routes are 2-lane roads or 4-lane roads with no or limited controlled-access. But in general, there is not a large difference overall between state and US routes in terms of quality and 2 lane or 4 lane status. Usually US routes are more traveled and thus will be more likely to be better maintained or have 4 lanes and some controlled access, but there are plenty of exceptions to this.
As a roadgeek, I am always keenly aware of whether a highway is a state or US highway and I have always thought of US highways as being a "higher level" of highway than state highways. People in general may know the difference between the two because of the different shields, but I wonder whether most people think of them as having any difference beyond that. So in general, do other people on here notice this and how important do you think the distinction of a highway being a US highway instad of a state highway really is?