Freight Photo: Sean Kilcarr/Fleet Owner

Spot van, reefer rates retreat from record highs

National average spot truckload rates for van and refrigerated freight eased down from record highs during the week ending Dec. 16, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

The number of available loads increased 2.4% while available capacity dipped 7.5%, sending load-to-truck ratios higher for all three equipment types compared to the previous week.

As a national average, the van rate fell 2 cents to $2.08/mile after hitting a three-year high during the previous week. It’s typical for van rates to decline from December through March but concerns about capacity in the wake of the ELD mandate on Dec. 18 may change seasonal rate trends. 


Spot van load posts slipped 1% while truck posts fell 7% last week; tighter capacity caused the van load-to-truck ratio to increase 9% to 7.8 loads per truck.

Rates in most of the major van markets were down last week, including Atlanta ($2.22/mile, down 3 cents), Memphis ($2.37/mile, down 3 cents), Los Angeles ($2.66/mile, down 10 cents), and Chicago ($2.63/mile, down 8 cents). The biggest lane-rate increase was from Columbus to Buffalo, which was up 31 cents to an average of $3.37/mile. That’s likely retail freight moving between two distribution hubs.

The national average spot refrigerated rate fell 4 cents to $2.36/mile. Load posts increased 3% and truck posts decreased 7% compared to the previous week, propelling the load-to-truck ratio to rise 12% to 11.0 loads per truck.

A decline in long-haul traffic loosened truckload capacity on the top 75 reefer lanes and pushed average outbound rates lower in most places, although prices remain elevated for December. Green Bay ($3.49/mile, down 15 cents), Chicago ($3.03/mile, down 4 cents), Philadelphia ($2.84/mile, 5 cents lower), Elizabeth, N.J. ($1.99/mile, down 6 cents), and Los Angeles ($2.94/mile, down 4 cents) are prime examples. 

The national average flatbed rate increased 1 cent for the third week in a row, moving to $2.32/mile. Flatbed prices are high for this time of year, and last week's rate is just 2 cents lower than the peak in October.

The price of on-highway diesel fuel fell a penny to $2.90/gallon. Prices remain nearly 50 cents higher than this time last year. Spot truckload freight rates include a fuel surcharge portion.

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: Finance News
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