trucks on the highway Photo: Fleet Owner

Spot rates, volumes hold on to higher ground

Spot truckload freight volume slipped 1.2% and truck posts increased 2% for the week ending March 17, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards. Load-to-truck ratios and rates were relatively even, although both are considerably higher compared to a year ago.

The national average load-to-truck ratio for all freight was 14.1, meaning there were 14.1 loads for every available truck, nearly double what it was at this time last year. Ratios for all three equipment types were stable week over week:

  • Van ratio:8, unchanged
  • Flatbed ratio:7, down slightly from 88.5
  • Reefer ratio:1, down from 10.5

National average spot rates were unchanged compared to the previous week but are well ahead of last year’s pace:

  • Van: $2.14/mile, unchanged for the fourth week in a row but 51 cents higher year over year
  • Flatbed: $2.50/mile, unchanged but 48 cents higher year over year
  • Reefer: $2.40/mile, unchanged for the third week in a row but 54 cents higher compared to last year

Van trends: The number of van loads increased 3.1% and truck posts rose 2.2% last week. Overall, rates trended up on 54 of the Top 100 lanes while 41 were down and five were unchanged. 

Hot van market: Houston volume jumped 4.6% last week. Industrial freight has helped make Houston the leading van market in terms of growth in 2018 so far. Houston-Oklahoma City—a key lane for energy-related freight—gained 22 cents to $2.35/mile.

Reefer trends: Refrigerated freight volume rose 9% last week, led by increases in 13 of 17 major markets. They include Chicago and Grand Rapids, Mich., in the Midwest (eggs and dairy); Sacramento and Twin Falls, Idaho, in the West; New Jersey and Philadelphia in the Northeast (imports); and Dallas in the South Central.

California reefer volumes were up 7.6% last week and Florida volumes are gaining strength as fresh fruits and vegetables start to move.

Hot reefer market: Chicago load availability jumped 16% and rates on several outbound lanes were higher, including Chicago-Philadelphia, up 36 cents to $3.53/mile; and Chicago-Kansas City, up 36 cents to $3.53/mile.

Flatbed trends: Capacity in the flatbed market remains tight, as the load-to-truck ratio for flatbeds remains above 80:1.

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit and join the conversation on Twitter with @LoadBoards.


TAGS: News Economics
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